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article imageElon Musk's Boring Company will build and operate O'Hare Express

By Karen Graham     Jun 14, 2018 in Technology
Chicago - The Boring Company, owned by visionary billionaire Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX fame, has been chosen to build and operate an elusive high-speed rail line between downtown Chicago and an expanding O’Hare International Airport.
The Boring Company beat out four other developers for the project that would build an underground high-speed rail line from downtown Chicago to O’Hare International Airport.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to make the official announcement this afternoon. “We have a person in Elon Musk who started an electric car company from nothing and started a space company from nothing and he has proven that he doesn’t like to fail,” said Mayor Emanuel, who shares that “failure-is-not-an-option” trait with Musk.
The Boring Company says the building of the O'Hare Express, which was dubbed the "Tesla-in-a-tube," according to the Chicago Sun-Times, will be "100 percent privately funded." Emanuel added that there would be no public subsidy to help pay for it.
“Here’s a guy in two different other transportation modes who has taken huge risks — not only economic, [but] reputational. We’re gonna bet on those two things and that track record in this next step with no money and all upside. … That’s a pretty good pay-off for us, vs. zero dollars from the public.”
Not the Hyperloop
The O'Hare Express is not to be confused with the Los Angeles Hyperloop — and is not nearly as ambitious as the plan Musk floated last summer to connect New York City and Washington, D.C. Musk says the Chicago Loop will be a much slower system.
The express loop will take passengers the approximately 18 miles between downtown Chicago and O’Hare Airport in about 12 minutes. The existing above-ground Blue Line trains currently take about 40-45 minutes to travel that same route.
Blue Line terminal in O Hare International Airport.
Blue Line terminal in O'Hare International Airport.
David Wilson from Oak Park, Illinois, USA
The Boring Company says that vehicles “will leave each station as frequently as every 30 seconds. The Chicago Express Loop will operate 20 hours per day, every day of the week.” As for the cost, passengers will be expected to pay between $20 and $25, according to early estimates.
But even so, this will be about half the cost of using Uber. For passengers using the L, Chicago's elevated train system, the cost is just $5 for the same trip. Gizmodo notes that while the cost Musk cited for the L.A. Hyperloop would be $1.00, it is not immediately clear why Chicago passengers would have to pay a higher rate.
Perhaps it may be because the L.A. Hyperloop is experimental. As Digital Journal pointed out in May, Elon Musk said the Los Angeles tunnel, running just 2.7 miles north to south and parallel to the Interstate 405 freeway will not be used for public transportation.
The tunnels drilled by The Boring Company are lined with Interlocking concrete pieces.
The tunnels drilled by The Boring Company are lined with Interlocking concrete pieces.
The Boring Company
The Boring Company will be using its low-cost, fast-paced tunneling technology to build the twin tunnels needed for the loop, originating then out of a now-dormant Block 37 transit super-station that was foreclosed on in 2011. The Boring Company officials say the empty space that looks like a huge basement is an “amazing facility,” arguing that the project would be “much harder” without it.
The exact route of the two tunnels, each 12 feet in diameter, has not been mapped out yet. That is part of the negotiation phase. The tunnels will be dug 30 to 60 feet below ground and head “straight northwest” to O’Hare, terminating at a new station between Terminals 1 and 3.
The route “could at some point go underneath” the Kennedy Expressway, the median of which includes the CTA’s Blue Line, said Deputy Mayor Robert Rivkin. Rivkin also defended The Boring Company, saying, detractors were "only partially correct” when they said the proposal is based on unproven technology."
Entrance to the tunnel in Los Angeles.
Entrance to the tunnel in Los Angeles.
Boring Company
“We’re talking about a Tesla-in-a-tunnel. … The vehicles that will be used in this project are essentially the chassis of a Tesla Model X built to accommodate sixteen people in sitting positions.” Rivkin also argued that the tunneling technology was "quite advanced."
“What’s new is that Musk had the vision to figure that he could disrupt the tunneling business the way he’s disrupted the space travel business, the battery business, and the automobile business by figuring out how to tunnel more quickly and cheaply than has been possible so far and to put his money where his mouth is,” Rivkin said.
As for when, and if, the tunneling under Chicago begins - only Elon Musk knows for sure. We have to remember that Musk has yet to build a working prototype of his tunnel and a lot of things can change in the interim.
“I suspect it’s going to evolve a few times before anything concrete gets done,” Hani Mahmassani, a professor of engineering at Northwestern University, told Bloomberg News.
More about elen musk, the boring company, o'hare express, Teslainatunnel, transportation system
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