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Elon Musk’s Boring Company has been chosen to build a high-speed tunnel link between downtown Chicago and O’Hare Airport that would ferry passengers in just 12 minutes. The current rail line takes nearly an hour to travel the 16 mile route — and vehicles can be caught in traffic delays that often add another hour.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to announce details of the preliminary decision Thursday, with the city now set to begin negotiations to work out the details for the tunnel, which uses skateboard-like electric vehicles.
“This transformative project will help Chicago write the next chapter in our legacy of innovation and invention,” Mayor Emanuel said in a statement confirming reports that first appeared in one of Chicago’s two daily newspapers.
Already running both an electric vehicle company and a rocket company, Musk first signaled his interest in digging tunnels with a December 2016 tweet in which he wrote, “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging…”
He detailed plans the following May during a TED Talk and has since laid out plans for several projects for what he named, partially in jest, The Boring Company. That includes a tunnel project connecting New York City and Washington, D.C., as well as one running from Baltimore to Washington.
Neither of those have gotten underway, but work has started on a test tunnel in Los Angeles. The city has also approved a “personalized mass transit” project for its crowded West Side — though that venture now is facing legal challenges from residents concerned about the process authorities used to exempt The Boring Company from environmental regulations.
Plans for the L.A. tunnel have changed since first announced; the project is now focused on giving pedestrians and bicycles a way to move across the city at high speed. The Chicago project, however, would provide transit for individual vehicles and for pedestrians.
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