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Elon Musk’s Boring Company hits setback, abandons L.A. tunnel project

Elon Musk has a dream of ending gridlock on city streets by way of a subterranean transit system that uses electric “sleds” to move vehicles and people around at speeds of up to 150 mph.

But it seems that some folks don’t share that dream.

Musk’s Boring Company has suffered a serious setback following protests by residents in a Los Angeles suburb who were against the building of one of its proposed tunnels.

The company said this week it’s ditching plans to build the tunnel, which was to have run parallel with the 405 freeway (beneath Sepulveda Boulevard) along Los Angeles’ west side, NBC News reported.

The Boring Company said it arrived at its decision after consulting with local community groups that had sued Los Angeles over its moves to exempt the project from an environmental review. City officials had said a review wasn’t necessary as the tunnel was for test purposes and therefore not destined to carry passengers. But the community groups claimed Musk intended for it to become part of a broader network of tunnels for the finished transit system, if it were ever to be completed.

In a statement, Musk’s company said it had “amicably settled” the matter with the relevant parties, namely the Sunset Coalition, the Brentwood Residents Coalition, and its president, Wendy-Sue Rosen. However, an attorney for the groups declined to reveal any information about the details of the agreed settlement, insisting that it’s confidential.

In what some observers will see as a case of “not in my backyard” — or rather, “not under my backyard” — the Boring Company’s setback highlights the kind of challenges such an ambitious venture will need to overcome if it’s to have any chance of becoming a reality.

Musk’s company said that having abandoned its plan for the Sepulveda tunnel, it will now turn its attention to the construction of a 3.5-mile tunnel running west from Dodger Stadium. The company says the aim of the project is to “help reduce traffic in Los Angeles by providing a clean and efficient public transportation option to Dodger Stadium,” though this plan also needs official approval.

But it’s not all bad news for the Boring Company. It has, for example, been selected to enter into talks for the design of an 18-mile, high-speed tunnel link between downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport using its boring machines.

It’s also just days away from unveiling a partially completed test tunnel. Running from the headquarters of another of Musk’s companies — SpaceX — in Hawthorne, California, the first section covers a distance of two miles and will be officially unveiled on December 10. Free rides through the tunnel aboard a demonstration vehicle will be offered to the public the following day.

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