In December, Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted while he was stuck in traffic: “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging.” Well, the digging has begun: Wired reports that the excavation began Friday on Musk’s tunnel, which at this point is just a 30-foot wide, 50-foot long, 15-foot deep hole in the ground at SpaceX’s Hawthorne headquarters.
Musk sees tunnels as a possible way to alleviate the traffic he maligned in the Tweet. As Musk explained to Wired in a Twitter direct message, “You have tall buildings, they’re all 3D, and then everyone wants to go into the building and leave the building at a same time ... On a 2D road network, that obviously doesn’t work, so you have to go 3D either up or down. And I think probably down.”
Musk has expressed wanting to have this tunnel eventually extend all the way to Los Angeles International Airport, but for now, he’s starting small.
When complete, the tunnel underway in Hawthorne will run from SpaceX’s complex to the company’s parking structure on the other side of Crenshaw Boulevard. The project is on SpaceX property, but the Los Angeles Daily News reports that Musk did get city permits to dig.
Musk, an admitted tunneling novice, seems confident he and his team will learn how to speed up tunneling. At a Sunday press conference for a Hyperloop design competition, Musk stated, “We’re just going to figure out what it takes to improve tunneling speed by, I think, somewhere between 500 and 1,000 percent,” but also admitted, “We have no idea what we’re doing—I want to be clear about that.”