Musk's Boring Company wins bid to build high-speed system in Chicago

The Boring Company shared this image of a proposed Chicago underground transit system. Courtesy

A company owned by Elon Musk has been chosen to dig an express route linking Chicago's downtown area to the O'Hare International Airport.

The company has designed a system that uses computer-controlled electric-powered wheeled "skates" that can travel at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour while carrying passengers, goods or vehicles riding on top of them. At a news conference with Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday, Musk said the Loop "will ultimately transition to the Hyperloop system".

The proposed link will shuttle eight to 16 passengers on "skate" electric vehicles in an underground loop between the airport and the Block 37 development in downtown Chicago.

"We think this is going to be transformative for Chicago on the global stage, and locally here; providing an incredible connection between our two engines of our economy - O'Hare Airport and our downtown business district", Deputy Mayor Bob Rivkin said Thursday morning. Collins says the journey in electric vehicles will take roughly 12 minutes. And Boring's technology is good enough that officials in Los Angeles and Baltimore recently have signed off on initial projects that could lead to much bigger efforts, such as a vacuum tube "hyperloop" from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., and eventually NY.

"We're taking a bet on a guy who doesn't like to fail - and his resources". The website says a skate could also hold "a single passenger vehicle".

Elon Musk and Hawthorne Mayor Alex Vargas inside of The Boring Co. tunnel entrance at the company's initial tunnel project in Hawthorne
Chicago Picks Musk's Boring Co. for O'Hare Express Service

The battery-powered electric skates that carry passengers are based on the Tesla Model X. One would leave as frequently as every 30 seconds and the system would operate 20 hours per day, according to Boring.

The next step will bring the company and the city together to negotiate a contract that will be presented to the Chicago City Council.

Construction and final deal details between Chicago and The Boring Company still need to be ironed out, but the Tribune reports that the project will cost less than $1 billion. "He's proven something", Emanuel said, according to the newspaper. Without a great improvement in the cost of boring tunnels, their current giant infrastructure projects won't amount to much.

The Boring Company must pay for a new station at O'Hare and renovate a unopened transit "superstation" at Block 37, part of a shopping center near City Hall that was a vestige of an abandoned high-speed rail project.

Musk unveiled a plan last month in Los Angeles to build tunnels beneath the city for a high-speed network of "personalized mass transit", promising to build it without disturbance or noise at the surface. The Boring Company released Wednesday renderings of what the underground system and rail cars would look like.

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