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Legal battle starts over Musk's Chicago tunnel

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Entrepreneur Elon Musk’s much-heralded deal to build and finance a proposed express transit system in Chicago is already facing its first legal challenge.

A lawsuit filed by the Better Government Association (BGA) – a watchdog group that campaigns for government accountability – claims the US city’s Infrastructure Trust and Mayor’s Office are refusing to release contract documents.

BGA’s court challenge claims there is a need to “obtain transparency” about how Musk’s hyper-loop firm The Boring Company was selected for the O’Hare Express System project.

In June, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel held a televised press conference to announce the choice of The Boring Company to build and operate the high-speed underground tunnel from downtown to O’Hare International Airport. Passengers would be carried at speeds of up to 240km/h in trains running on autonomous electric skates.

The billionaire entrepreneur had been up against a rival bid from O’Hare Express a consortium of Mott MacDonald, Meridiam, Antarctica Capital, JLC Infrastructure and First Transit.

“The main impetus is we’re very interested in the plan for an express train to O’Hare now that a contractor has been selected,” explained BGA President David Greising. “We feel the city needs to comply with the Freedom of Information Act that says the public records should be made available, given the mayor has made a final selection.”

Chicago’s Law Department promised to “vigorously defend” the lawsuit, claiming it cannot comply with a release of documents since the final contract for the work does not exist.

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