After winning the coveted contract to build Chicago’s high-speed transit tunnel, the Boring Company held a press conference at the city’s Block 37 Superstation to formally announce the tunneling startup’s high-profile project. Dubbed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as the “X,” the high-speed tunnel system is designed to link downtown Chicago to O’Hare Airport.
Prior to the press conference, The Boring Company shared a video of a Tesla Model X being carried by “electric skates” through a tunnel on Twitter. While incredibly brief, the short clip gives an idea of the speed that Chicago commuters can expect from the tunneling startup’s transportation system.
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made an appearance at Block 37 Superstation, sharing the stage with the city mayor. As noted by Chicago Tribunereporter Bill Ruthart on Twitter, Emanuel was very optimistic about the Boring Company’s project, stating that the high-speed tunnels would “not cost the city a penny” and that it builds on Chicago’s “legacy of innovation.” Emanuel noted that part of the reason behind the city’s decision to select the Boring Co. was Musk’s record and vision.
“We’re taking a bet on a guy who doesn’t like to fail — and his resources. There are a bunch of Teslas on the road. He put SpaceX together. He’s proven something. The risk — with no financial risk — is I’m betting on a guy who has proven in space, auto and now, a tunnel, that he can innovate and create something of the future,” the Chicago Mayor said.
Addressing Chicago’s press, Elon Musk expressed his thanks at the city and Mayor Emanuel for placing his faith in the Boring Co. Musk noted that he hopes to start digging in as soon as four months. Digging shall commence from both Loop and O’Hare ends. When asked about the high-speed tunnels’ funding, Musk noted that he is confident he can raise the estimated ~$1 billion for the project, considering that he has already raised $22 billion among all of his companies. The serial tech entrepreneur also noted that the downtown Chicago-O’Hare tunnel is “quite economically appealing.” Lastly, Musk announced that The Boring Company would tap both union and non-union workers for manpower.
The Boring Company’s high-speed Chicago tunnel system is expected to accommodate almost 2,000 passengers per direction every hour, with pods leaving every 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Cost for the high-speed rail is estimated to be between $20-$25 per person, roughly half the price of a typical ride-share or cab. The trip is expected to last only 12 minutes with pods traveling more than 100 mph. The upcoming project’s preliminary route will be Block 37, Randolph St. west, under the Kennedy north, north under Halsted, northwest under Milwaukee, northwest under Elston before again crossing under the Kennedy near Bryn Mawr Avenue and heading west to O’Hare, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Boring Company and the Chicago mayor have noted that it is far too early to provide a concrete timeline for the completion of the high-speed tunnel system. Apart from handling the costs of the project, The Boring Company will also construct a new station at O’Hare and help in the completion of the Block 37 Superstation. Overall, the ~$1 billion tunnel is part of Chicago’s $8.5 billion overhaul of O’Hare Airport.
The Boring Company’s contract with Chicago stands as the tunneling startup’s first high-profile project. So far, the Boring Co. has only embarked on smaller-scale test projects in Los Angeles, as well as a tunnel beneath SpaceX in Hawthorne, CA, which will offer free demo rides to the public upon regulatory approval.