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Musk Teases Vision of High-Speed Chicago Rail Tunnel That May Boost Real Estate Demand

Boring Co. Sets Up Tunnel-Digging Framework, Signaling It Expects Approval of Project
July 9, 2018
Elon Musk's The Boring Co. tweeted a photo of tunnel-digging framework, indicating he's expecting approval for a project connecting Chicago and O'Hare International Airport.

Elon Musk’s The Boring Co. is signaling it expects approval to dig an 18-mile underground tunnel for high-speed rail between Chicago's financial district to O'Hare International Airport, a $1 billion project that may boost demand for commercial real estate in the third most-populous U.S. city.

Musk, the billionaire innovator behind cutting-edge Tesla electric cars and SpaceX rockets, is teasing Twitter followers with the first image of the support structure for the boring machine that will dig the tunnel. An underground track will support high-speed train service that will whisk executives flying into and out of Chicago to their destinations and "alleviate soul-destroying traffic.” The move will increase the desirability of the city's offices and other downtown real estate.

Musk said he expects to begin burrowing within 12 to 16 weeks after gaining city, state and federal approval for the project, which The Boring Co. will finance. City officials haven't specified the amount of time the approval process will require. Construction of a support system, which will need to be set up in Chicago, even before approval is granted shows that Musk expects the benefits of the project for economic development, which would include commercial property and other businesses, will lead to permission.

The tweet of the gantry by Musk's company was directed at Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who has said the project will make Chicago a more desirable location for businesses. Emanuel responded to the tweet by posting on Twitter: “Another step closer to the O’Hare Express Service!”

The ambitious project, the first for the two-year-old The Boring Co., promises to deliver passengers from downtown Chicago to three terminals at O’Hare in 18 minutes. By nearly every modern transportation measure, that would be record time. Musk has hinted that success with the Chicago project may lead to similar developments in other cities.

Dubbed the Chicago Express Loop, the public transportation system will use autonomous electric skates, which look like trams, at speeds of 125 miles per hour to 150 miles per hour. The vehicles are fashioned after the Tesla Model X car chassis, according to The Boring Co.

“We're super excited to do what I think is going to be a groundbreaking technology in one of the greatest cities in the world,” Musk said at a press conference in June announcing the timetable for the project. “I think we're going to be very good at Boring. And the ride is going to be very exciting.”

On the risk factor for The Boring Co., Musk was sanguine. “This is a difficult thing that we're doing. It's a hard thing. It's a new thing,” he said in June. “If we succeed, it's going to be a great thing for the city, and if we fail, well, I guess me and others will lose a bunch of money.”

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