Plenty of LA drivers have sat in endless gridlock, resigned to the fact that nothing will ever relieve the persistent problem of traffic. But if you’re a techno-billionaire in that situation, you turn that frustration into a visionary/lunatic proposal.
Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk gave a sneak peek into his bold new solution for LA traffic at the TED conference today, reports Recode, and it involves tunnels. Lots of tunnels.
A short new video from Musk’s new company, The Boring Company, shows how it would work: Cars would park atop elevators on surface roads that would then lower them into underground tunnels. Once in a tunnel, the car would be loaded onto a platform called a “skate,” which would then carry the car forward at speeds of up to 124 mph.
The Boring Company has already begun experimenting with tunneling, albeit modestly. Musk says the operation is “basically interns and people doing it part time,” and Musk himself estimates that he only devotes 2-3 percent of his time on it.
Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging...— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2016
Musk and his team have already begun digging a tunnel at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, with plans to link to it a parking structure on the other side of Crenshaw Boulevard.
From there, Musk says the next stop is Los Angeles International Airport.
Digging one tunnel is a tedious process, let alone the elaborate system of tunnels Musk is proposing. Heck, even tunnel boring champion Harriet the Drill can only carve out 60 feet of tunnel a day. To solve that problem, Musk plans to develop new drilling technology that simultaneously digs and reinforces tunnels as it goes along.