HAWTHORNE (CBSLA) — After two years of hype and anticipation, Elon Musk’s Boring Company Tuesday night held a raucous unveiling of its test tunnel in Hawthorne, a prototype of an underground transportation system Musk has touted as a way to avoid the “soul-destroying traffic” of Los Angeles.
CBS2’s Tom Wait was one of the first to ride through the tunnel. Wait rode in a Tesla which was rigged so that it hooks into the tunnel’s rail. During the demonstration, Wait said the car hit a top speed of 40 to 45 miles per hour.
Wait described the ride as “a little bit bumpy” and “a little bit claustrophobic,” but overall, “everything went off and everything was technically solid.”
The tunnel starts at Crenshaw Boulevard and 120th Street, and stretches west for 1.14 miles under 120th Street.
Under Musk’s plan, a network of underground tunnels with driverless cars or pods would shuttle passengers like electric sleds to and from multiple stations around major cities at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour. At each stop there would be a lift which would avoid the construction of large and expensive stations.
“Traffic is soul-destroying, it’s like acid on the soul, it’s horrible,” Musk told the crowd Tuesday night. “Wouldn’t it be incredible, if you could travel around L.A., New York, D.C., Chicago, Paris, London, anywhere, at 150 miles an hour? That would be phenomenal.”
Musk says it takes roughly a year to dig and construct a mile of tunnel in a city like LA. His goal is to speed up that process by 15-fold with new technology and new designs for his boring machines.
“The great thing about tunnels, is that there’s no limit to how deep you can go, they’re weather-proof,” Musk said.
CBS This Morning’s Gail King rode with Musk in the tunnel and recorded the short journey.
“The autopilot has radar and cameras that will automatically slow you down before you impact another car,” Musk responded to King’s question regarding what will prevents cars from colliding into one another.
The unveiling was initially scheduled for Dec. 10, but was pushed back a week.
In July of 2017, officials on the East Coast gave Musk tentative approval to being work on building an underground hyper-loop from New York to Washington, D.C.
In August of 2017, the Hawthorne City Council gave The Boring Company approval to construct the test tunnel. If the Hawthorne tunnel is successful, Musk is hoping to follow it up with a bigger tunnel system that would run as far south as Long Beach, as far north as Sherman Oaks, east to Dodger Stadium and west to Santa Monica.
In August, Musk proposed constructing a tunnel which would run from Dodger Stadium to Hollywood. Billed as the “Dugout Loop,” the 3.6 mile all-electric underground tunnel would run from Dodger Stadium to property owned by the Boring Company near the Vermont/Sunset, Vermont/Santa Monica or Vermont/Beverly Metro Red Line stations.
The Dugout Loop would consist of “autonomous electric skates” propelled by multiple electric motors carrying eight to 16 people. The skates will travel at 125 to 150 miles per hour for a trip that will take less than four minutes and cost around $1, according to the company. It would be able to transport an estimated 1,400 people in total per event.
In late November, the Boring Company canceled plans to build a tunnel under the 405 Freeway on the L.A. Westside. The decision was part of a settlement with two community groups who sued the Boring Company and the city of L.A., alleging that the city had exempted the project from proper environmental reviews.
Musk has reiterated that the tunnels will be entirely privately financed and not require any tax money. At this point, Musk does not have a definitive timeline for when a larger network of tunnels will be built, but he’s hoping to have more built by the 2028 Olympics.