Elon Musk’s tunnel-digging venture has taken the wraps off a new project. On Tuesday, Hawthorne City Council gave the thumbs-up to a futuristic new garage where the car would sink into the ground onto a skate, guided by an elevator, whizzing under the ground through a tunnel — without ever opening the garage door.
The plan is the next step in Musk’s aim to ease traffic congestion, by building tunnels under cities rather than adding more roads. The company first started with constructing a two-mile-long tunnel that will extend from the SpaceX campus at Crenshaw Boulevard, under 120th Street, out to the intersection with Hawthorne Boulevard. Mercury News reported on Thursday that The Boring Company purchased a property next to the company’s test tunnel. City documents show the property is located on 119th Street, allowing it to link up with the tunnel.
The project involves demolishing the current garage and installing a new, 975-square-foot garage measuring 26 feet by 37 feet and six inches. The elevator would move the car 40 feet below the garage floor to the tunnel, through an opening measuring 20 feet by 10 feet to carry one vehicle per descent.
The project establishes some ground rules about the tunnel’s usage. The Boring Company will only move cars through the tunnel and up and down the elevator, but they won’t enter or exit the garage, instead moving back through to the Crenshaw Avenue exit. The property will act as a regular residence, there won’t be any promotional activity around the property, and it should not affect residents in terms of noise, vibration, smells, or other factors. A company representative claimed that it notified over 100 residents about the plans.
“What we want to do is show proof of concept and as quickly as possible,” representative Brett Horton told Mercury News. “We are not asking to go around the public process. Yes, we do move fast. We are trying to revolutionize transportation and don’t want to get bogged down.”
The Boring Company has outlined big plans to revolutionize transport. It’s focusing on two tunnel configurations to ease congestion. The first is the “loop,” a tunnel that will support skates with either 16-passenger carts on top or a shelf for holding a car, moving up to 150 mph through a tunnel. The more ambitious configuration is the “hyperloop,” first outlined by Musk in a 2013 white paper, that could one day support theoretical top speeds of 700 mph by vacuum-sealing the tunnel and modifying the skates. The company plans to use the “loop” configuration for shorter routes. It’s important to note that the current public “hyperloop” speed record is at 290 mph over a 0.8-mile track, but team Delft Hyperloop claims a higher speed is possible over a much longer track with more acceleration and braking space.
The company has announced a number of future projects. Last month it announced a 3.6-mile tunnel transporting Dodgers baseball fans to the Los Angeles metro. Over the summer, the city of Chicago gave the thumbs-up to a tunnel between O’Hare Airport and Block 37 in downtown Chicago. A further “loop” proposal would run the 35 miles from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, with the potential to extend to New York and upgrade to a “hyperloop.”
As for the garage tunnel, the next steps are to submit more detailed proposals to the council for final approval. The company will also rent out the house itself as well.