Traffic > Concrete

Tired of heavy traffic, Elon Musk builds California test tunnel

The first infrastructure achievement of The Boring Company

The first section of the Hawthorne Test Tunnel has been demoed to the media. PHOTO FROM THE BORING COMPANY

No one is exempt from “soul-destroying traffic.” Not me. Not you. Not even a billionaire tech businessman like Elon Musk, who is responsible for the quote in the opening sentence. We all crawl through time-wasting gridlock. And we all bitch about it on social media. The difference between us and Mr. Musk, however, is that he can curse to high heavens about his motoring problem and then do something about it.

Like, you know, build an underground tunnel that would allow him to travel to his destination unimpeded by traffic jams.

A little anecdote for context: On December 17, 2016, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO tweeted this rant…

Today, two years later, he made true his promise by opening the first section of the Hawthorne Test Tunnel in California. This is the first infrastructure milestone by The Boring Company, the tunnel-building firm Musk founded right after his above social-media gripe. (By the way, I just realized that the company’s name actually refers to drilling and not to making people yawn—to bore being to make a hole in the ground. I know, I know…I’m too dense. I thought the founder was just trying to be self-deprecating.)

According to Time, the test tunnel cost $10 million (P530 million) to build, even though Musk had previously estimated that a subway like this would set him back $1 billion (P53 billion) per mile (1.6km). The Boring Company’s website describes the test tunnel’s route as “leaving SpaceX property (parking lot east of Crenshaw Boulevard and south of 120th Street), turning west under 120th Street, and remaining under 120th Street for up to two miles.”

There will be no traffic buildup in here. PHOTO FROM THE BORING COMPANY

The demo rides given to journalists were a boring 64km/h, the Time article reports, but Musk claims the future system will go as fast as 240km/h. The plan is to transport people quickly, freely and seamlessly. Or without traffic congestion, in other words.

The vehicles to be used will be autonomous and electric, as tailpipe emissions will likely poison human beings inside an enclosed tunnel. You can bet most of them will sport Tesla badges.

Expect Tesla cars to feature prominently in the tunnels of The Boring Company. PHOTO FROM THE BORING COMPANY

It may take years before a fully operational tunnel by The Boring Company is opened for actual public use. But this is a start. If anything, Elon Musk has shown it can be done. Frustration brought about by bumper-to-bumper traffic apparently drives and inspires one to do brilliant things.

Let’s hope someone equally powerful and rich will be as frustrated with Metro Manila traffic.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.