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Elon Musk beats Motts to Chicago tunnelling job

Block 37 station

Elon Musk is growing his burgeoning tunnelling empire after he beat a Mott MacDonald joint venture to win a Chicago airport transit link. 

Musk’s tunnelling firm The Boring Company was picked to design, build, finance and operate the Chicago Express Loop, a tunnel running between O’Hare Airport and Block 37 in downtown Chicago which will transport passengers on autonomous electric skates at 125-150 miles per hour.

Musk beat the O’Hare Xpress LLC, a consortium of Mott MacDonald, Meridiam, Antarctica Capital, JLC Infrastructure and First Transit.

Engineers have previously poured scorn on Musk’s tunnelling ambitions, with one American engineer saying Musk’s electric skate plans are “far too complex”.

The Boring Company was originally set up to build a road tunnel network under Los Angeles to ease congestion, an idea Musk came up with while stuck in LA’s notorious traffic.

Musk said: “We’re really excited to work with the Mayor and the City to bring this new high-speed public transportation system to Chicago.”

High-speed skates

High-speed skates

Source: The Boring Company

The billionaire entrepreneur will use an unfinished underground station at Block 37 for the Chicago Express Loop. The final route will be set once the Chicago City Council and Musk have negotiated a contract.

Each vehicle will carry up to 16 passengers, plus their luggage, and will depart from O’Hare and from Block 37 as frequently as every 30 seconds. Fares will be roughly half the cost of a taxi ride.

Musk is also behind the vision for Hyperloop, a super-fast transport system using pods to glide across long distances.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Chelsea miner

    This is an impressive feat and will no doubt shake up the US tunnelling market. However, to describe Musk’s Boring Company as a burgeoning tunnelling empire is somewhat off the mark. He has a second hand TBM driving a test tunnel in LA. It will be interesting to see who he engages with in the supply chain.

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