Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Elon Musk's Secret Tunnel

At the Los Angeles Times, "Plans offer a peek into Elon Musk's tunnel in Hawthorne, including an elevator hidden in a garage":

When Elon Musk’s tunneling firm began digging in Hawthorne last year, the construction site next to SpaceX headquarters was barely noticeable, sandwiched between a home improvement store and a parking garage.

The engineers at work on the Boring Co.’s tunnel, which now runs for a mile beneath city streets, have signaled that they intend to finish as they started: away from the public eye.

But documents submitted to city officials by Musk’s tunneling company offer a sneak peek at the company’s plans.

The most futuristic is a blueprint for a steel elevator shaft inside the garage of a shabby house near the Hawthorne Municipal Airport that would connect with the test tunnel 40 feet below.

“We’ll be completely contained within the garage,” Boring Co. employee Brett Horton told officials last month when the project received approval from the Hawthorne City Council. “You won’t be able to see or hear it.”

The structure would serve as a covert place for engineers to practice raising and lowering vehicles into the test tunnel, a key element of the transportation system known as “Loop.”

Musk envisions a transportation network where commuters in cars, on foot or on bicycles can board platforms the size of parking spaces, dotted across the city. The platforms, called “skates,” would sink through elevator shafts, merge seamlessly into the tunnel network and whisk riders to their destinations at speeds of up to 130 mph.

Musk said Sunday that the company’s first tunnel will open to the public in December with free rides for the public. If that happens, it will be the first chance many residents have to learn anything about the tunnel, where engineers have been honing their digging skills for a year.

The tunnel has been built quietly, with comparatively little noise, congestion — or public communication. Milestones have mostly popped up through Musk’s Twitter feed, sparking excitement from traffic-weary Angelenos and skepticism from locals about the project’s feasibility.

Transportation planners and officials say they worry about the system’s effect on traffic and whether Musk can deliver on his ambitious visions. As one example, critics say, the tunnel in Hawthorne is shorter than the two-mile route that city officials approved last year.

The route was truncated because a property “became available” where the company could extricate a piece of digging equipment known as a cutter head that otherwise would have been abandoned underground, company representative Jane Labanowski said at City Hall last month...
More.

0 comments: