Editor's Note: This post was originally published in June, 2017 and has been updated with the most recent information.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk made waves in both the transit and tech communities earlier this year, when he revealed plans for an underground tunnel project presented as an alternative to traffic-clogged freeways. Now, the charismatic entrepreneur is hinting that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti may be open to making the city a testing ground for the new technology.
In a tweet Sunday, Musk wrote that he had had “promising conversations” with Garcetti about his proposed network of tunnels that would ferry cars beneath the city atop small platforms designed to reach speeds of up to 124 miles per hour. He also indicated that the tunnel could carry bicyclists and pedestrians to their respective destinations, though it’s not clear whether there would be a separate mechanism for this type of travel.
Garcetti’s press secretary, Alex Comisar, would not comment on the details of those conversations, but tells Curbed that the mayor “welcomes the discussion of how innovative technology can improve quality of life in LA.”
Garcetti has been thinking outside the box lately when it comes to transit options for the city. In May, he revived the long-dormant idea of installing a gondola to carry spectators to the Hollywood sign and just last week, he proposed a monorail as a possible solution to gridlock on the 405.
In his tweet, Musk noted that the hardest part of his project would be attaining the necessary permits to build such a complex tunnel network below the city.
We reached out to the Board of Public Works to find out exactly what permits one might need to build a high-speed subterranean transit system in Los Angeles. Spokesperson Mary Nemick tells us that such a large project “would probably have a custom review process” in which multiple city departments would approve specific elements of the project.