Elon Musk’s Boring Company wins the nod from Chicago for airport express link

Boring Company transit tunnelsBoring Company transit tunnels
Elon Musk’s vision calls for building networks of underground tunnels to get around surface street congestion. (Boring Company Illustration)

Elon Musk’s Boring Company is getting the go-ahead to build a multibillion-dollar express transit system between downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport, city officials said.

Mayoral spokesman Grant Klinzman told GeekWire in a tweet that the Boring Company won the bid. “Consider it confirmed,” he said.

Bloomberg News quoted unnamed sources as saying that the Boring Company beat out a bid from O’Hare Xpress LLC, a consortium that included the Mott MacDonald engineering firm and JLC Infrastructure, a venture backed by former basketball star Magic Johnson.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Musk and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel were due to make the official announcement on Thursday.

In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Emanuel noted Musk’s experience as the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX and said he was willing to bet on Musk’s “track record in this next step with no money and all upside.”

“We have a person in Elon Musk who started an electric car company from nothing, and started a space company from nothing, and he has proven that he doesn’t like to fail,” Emanuel said.

Details of the deal are to be worked out in the months ahead.

The system would take the form of an underground tunnel system, with electric-powered pods carrying up to 16 passengers on trips that take as little as 12 minutes (compared with the 40 minutes or more required for a $5 trip on Chicago’s “L” trains). Fares would amount to $20 to $25 a ride, the Tribune reported.

Under the arrangement with the Chicago Infrastructure Trust, the Boring Company would bear the cost of building and operating the system, with no public expenditure. The company would recoup its expenses through fares, advertising and other private revenue sources.

The Boring Company is also working on tunnel networks in the Los Angeles area and Maryland. In both those locales, the company has faced some resistance on environmental or regulatory grounds.

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