The Boring Company Is Still Ready to Dig in After LA Tunnel Plan Collapses

It will now focus on connecting Dodgers Stadium to the LA subway.

by James Dennin

The Boring Company has shelved a plan to build a tunnel beneath the 405 freeway in Los Angeles — dubbed the Sepulveda test tunnel — after settling a community lawsuit, saying that it will instead focus on building a Dodgers Stadium tunnel from the ballpark to one of three proposed LA subway stops roughly 3.6 miles away.

“The parties (The Boring Company, Brentwood Residents Coalition, Sunset Coalition, and Wendy-Sue Rosen) have amicably settled the matter of Brentwood Residents Coalition et al. v. City of Los Angeles (TBC — The Boring Company),” reads a statement shared with NBC News on Tuesday. “The Boring Company is no longer seeking the development of the Sepulveda test tunnel and instead seeks to construct an operational tunnel at Dodger Stadium.”

"The Boring Company is no longer seeking the development of the Sepulveda test tunnel

No matter how widely loathed LA traffic is, the tunnel was not without controversy. In fact, the logistical and municipal hurdles, which included more than 600 pages of permits and reconciling the company’s tunneling plans with the LA Metro’s own planned subway expansions — were arguably as formidable as the technological ones. Musk did a fair bit of PR to try and sell the idea to the community, not just tweets but also hosting Q/As with locals.

For its part, the Dodgers tunnel has garnered more outspoken public support, including a relatively cautious statement from LA mayor Eric Garcetti, who in August when the proposed project was first announced described the project as “innovative” and “exciting.”

What’s Next for the Boring Company?

The Boring Company project has always contained multitudes, for Musk, who has at time come across as ambivalent about forms of public transportation like subways. While that’s hardly an unusual point of view for an automotive executive to take, his public remarks on the topic have courted controversy. Last year, Wired reported a response to an audience question at a transportation event where he said public transit “sucks” and that “people like individualized transport, that goes where you want, when you want.”

And yet, at the same time he also argued that tunnels, in particular, might be the best remedy for urban problems like congestion.

“Tunnels are great,” he said at an event for students in January, 2016. “You could have tunnels at all different levels, you could have 30 layers of tunnels and completely relieve the congestion problem in high-density cities. So, I highly suggest tunnels.”

And while Musk is no stranger to working with the government, whether contracting with NASA through SpaceX, building large-scale infrastructure projects requires like the Boring Company tunnels requires navigating whole new universe of challenges, from attending to the the needs of “not in my backyard-ers,” community and environmental organizations, and government bureaucrats who tend to be more skeptical about moon-shots than their moneyed counterparts in venture capital and the tech industry.

That said, despite this setback, the company has come a long way from casually announcing “verbal approval” for its various projects. In October, it announced that it had gone into exclusive negotiations with the Chicago Infrastructure Trust to build an express loop to O’Hare Airport with downtown Chicago.

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