Elon Musk’s next project may be a bit more … boring than his previous endeavors.
The founder of SpaceX and Tesla is accustomed to flashy enterprises and larger-than-life dreams (that all seem to be coming to fruition), and now, he’s turning his attention to a simple problem that plagues all of us: Traffic. Because why shouldn’t it take us 29 minutes to get from New York to D.C.? With Musk’s Boring Company, this could be our new reality, especially now that Musk has attained written permission to begin digging in D.C.
In March, Musk gave us a closer look at what the future of transportation might look like. In a series of tweet, the executive noted that the Boring Company would focus on shuttles rather than cars, and will move both people and bicycles from Point A to Point B. This, Musk says, will aid in the company’s aim to “prioritize pedestrians [and] cyclists over cars.” This is a matter of “courtesy and fairness,” the entrepreneur tweeted. “If someone can’t afford a car, they should go first.”
Adjusting The Boring Company plan: all tunnels & Hyperloop will prioritize pedestrians & cyclists over cars
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 9, 2018
In total, the Boring Company’s urban loop system will have thousands of stations about the size of a standard parking space that will take riders to their destinations, but will “blend seamlessly into the fabric of a city.”
Better video coming soon, but it would look a bit like this: pic.twitter.com/C0iJPi8b4U
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 9, 2018
This grand plan is coming closer and closer to fruition. At the beginning of 2018, the Washington Post reported, “The Boring Company team has received an early, and vague, building permit from the D.C. government that will allow some preparatory and excavation work at the fenced-off parking lot at 53 New York Avenue NE beside a McDonald’s and amid the construction cranes of Washington’s booming NoMa neighborhood.” A spokesperson for the company also noted that “a New York Avenue location, if constructed, could become a station.”
The approval comes a few months after Musk received approval to begin digging in Maryland, which will be one of the stops along the new northeastern route. The state gave Musk the go-ahead to begin digging a 10.3-mile tunnel beneath the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in October, marking the first part of the New York to D.C. route.
“This thing is real. It’s exciting to see,” Maryland Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn said at the time. “The word ‘transformational’ may be overused, but this is a technology that leapfrogs any technology that is out there today. And it’s going to be here.”
Obviously, the man who conceptualized the Hyperloop has never had the patience for sitting in gridlock, and in December 2016, the entrepreneur took to Twitter to express his frustration, and more important, his solution. “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…” he wrote cryptically on December 17 of last year. And just for good measure, he added later, “I am actually going to do this.”
Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2016
Digging a bunch of tunnels does hold the prospect of adding additional lanes to urban areas that can’t easily accommodate more lanes above ground. And given Musk’s track record in other areas, we can at least hope his solution is feasible.
Exciting progress on the tunnel front. Plan to start digging in a month or so.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 25, 2017
The tunnels for the Boring Company are slated to begin “across from my desk at SpaceX,” which is located near “Crenshaw and the 105 Freeway,” about five minutes from LAX, Musk said earlier this year. He’s also addressed concerns about earthquakes, noting that these natural phenomena “tend to have the biggest effect on the surface, like waves on water. That’s why LA can have a (lame, but getting better) subway.”
In late April, he spoke at a TED conference where he outlined more concrete plans for his underground company. Per a concept video, Musk intends to drop cars (gently, of course), beneath Earth’s surface by way of a system of elevator platforms. Cars will drive onto designated areas, which will then be lowered beneath the ground. Once underground, however, the cars won’t be driving themselves. Rather, they will be controlled autonomously by the system at large and sent to their final destinations at speeds of up to 130 miles per hour.
Fingers crossed, we’ll soon be able to put Musk’s claims to the tests. And honestly, anything that can help us east coasters avoid the horrendous traffic that is the northeastern corridor is a win in our book.
Updated on March 10: Check out a concept video of the Boring Company’s loop system.
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