Elon Musk is fed up with traffic. In fact, he’s digging a tunnel, with dreams to “hyper” transport you from L.A. to San Francisco at 160mph with zero road rage. His grand tunnel plans are already being unearthed.
On the horizon:
Elon Musk has been complaining publicly about L.A. Traffic. Tesla’s head honcho, based out of his L.A. headquarters, finds himself in the same “soul-destroying” traffic that plagues ordinary citizens, who have come to accept the unpredictable nature of SoCal freeways. In fact, Musk owns that self-driving cars, such as the Tesla, will only increase freeway gridlock challenges. So now, Musk’s team is channeling the same imagination that fuels his space, solar and car projects to imagine a better commute for Californians…one tunnel at a time. In fact, he says he’s starting right at Space X’s campus with his tunnel dreams.
The tunnel is just the start. Inside the tunnel will be his version of a “Hyperloop” with pods that carry 840 passengers an hour from LA to San Francisco in 2 hours and 38 minutes at a cost of $105 to passengers.
Digging up a traffic solution:
Musk laid out his Hyperloop solution to California’s traffic quandary behind his vision. The Hyperloop is essentially a tunnel with a traveling capsule that moves at high speed through a tube containing air. The details laid out are complex (and not my wheelhouse), so are the finer points.
He writes that the Hyperloop would be built on pylons and ride alongside “the mostly very straight California Interstate 5 highway.” It would travel at an average speed of 164mph, varying based on location.
In a nutshell, Musk believes that:
“The Hyperloop (or something similar) is …the only option for super fast travel…to build a tube over or under the ground that contains a special environment…this is where things get tricky.”
There is a lot that gets tricky with the Hyperloop proposal. The complex science is merely one aspect. At a base-line cost of $4bn and possibly stretching to $7bn+, the L.A.-S.F. Hyperloop price tag is a major consideration. The permitting and government approval required to carry out such a massive, privatized project is also an unknown. However, Musk recently met with President Trump to discuss several top tech industry issues. President Trump has been very clear on his infrastructure priorities for the country, so they may be allied in this one arena, giving him some advantage.
Musk’s next steps:
Musk backed up his tunnel teases with evidence of digging on Twitter, (though, it is unclear if this is his efforts or not):
Digging his first trench on his campus is not only strategic and symbolic but also easier, as he steers away from public property and permitting requirements. From there, however, the challenges grow for Tesla’s CEO and his team. Beyond the science, another goal should be keep this from becoming the center of public fodder, in the same way the Second Avenue Subway line and the Seattle Tunnel Project have gone.