Elon Musk’s Plans to Build a ‘Very Safe Tunnel’ Under LA Are Nearing Reality

LA Metro greenlights a 2.7-mile test tunnel under Sepulveda Blvd. “Bring your flamethrower,” said Musk.

Elon Musk is one step closer to realizing his Hyperloop dreams. In a livestreamed video “information session” held last night at a Bel-Air synagogue, the self-anointed prophet of futurist transport announced his intention to dig a 2.7-mile test tunnel underneath Los Angeles’ busy Sepulveda Boulevard.

These construction plans are being paid for in part by a crowdfunding project in which the Boring Company pre-sold 20,000 flamethrowers (which, incidentally, are being shipped out soon).

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The tunnel—which will be used exclusively to test Loop and Hyperloop technology—is a precursor to a larger plan to resolve Los Angeles’ “soul-destroying traffic.” Musk’s Boring Company plans to dig hundreds of underground tunnels and build a widespread network of ground-level microstations to shuttle people around the city at 150 miles per hour, at just $1 a ride.

It sounds implausible, but LA Metro confirmed the test-tunnel partnership in a tweeted statement shortly before Musk took the stage: "Metro leadership and CEO Phil Washington had a great meeting today with the talented staff of the @boring_company. They will coordinate with us as they move ahead with their proof of concept tunnel under Sepulveda Boulevard to ensure it doesn't interfere with our Sepulveda Transit Corridor rail project. We'll be partners moving forward."

Throughout the information session, Musk spoke in his trademark matter-of-fact intonation about the Loop and Hyperloop projects, revealing details about how the work will get done.

He said he’s going to build custom tunnel-boring machines (TBM) that will work continuously to dig the required tunnels, and the excavated dirt will be shuttled out of the tunnels using electric locomotives powered by Tesla Model 3 batteries and motors. Tunnel reinforcements will be installed simultaneously so the TBMs don’t have to stop digging. The excavated dirt will then be used to make “really great bricks” he will sell for 10 cents a brick.

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He announced these plans to rapturous applause from an off-camera audience, at an event that felt like a public consultation disguised as a low-key startup pitch competition (which is a trend that has not gone unnoticed).

“If you can do hundreds of tunnels and you can have many small stations woven throughout the fabric of the city, you can actually — without the city even appearing different — you could solve the transport problem,” Musk explained. He said the parking-spot-sized stations could seamlessly integrate into the city, “and it wouldn’t affect things in a bad way.”

“Compared to an above-ground system or compared to a flying car, you don’t have to worry about bad weather. You can’t see it, hear it, feel it, you’re not dividing communities with lanes, and we think we can make this really fun,” he continued.

The Boring Company is looking to circumvent the normally tedious permitting process for infrastructure building for its 2.7-mile proof-of-concept track under Sepulveda Boulevard.

Project leader Steve Davis, who sat alongside Musk at the information session, noted that the company has filed a 1,500-page study as part of a request to exempt it from the process and that it still had “600 pages” of permit applications to complete to build the test tunnel. “This will be a very safe tunnel,” Musk said.

Once tests are completed, Musk will consider turning the test tunnel into “a weird little Disney ride in the middle of LA.”

“Bring your flamethrower,” he quipped.