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Can Elon Musk’s company really build Chicago’s high-speed Loop?
14 June 2018, 11:08 | Kelvin Horton
Musk Boring Co. aims to whisk airline passengers between Michigan Avenue and O'Hare Airport in 20 minutes. Raymond Boyd Getty Images
Chicago has selected Elon Musk'sBoring Company to build and operate an "express service to transport people to O'Hare Airport from downtown in 12 minutes on electric vehicles in underground tunnels", Mayor Rahm Emanuel says.
The company has designed a system that uses computer-controlled electric-powered wheeled "skates" that can travel at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour while carrying passengers, goods or vehicles riding on top of them.
Without providing a specific timeline, the Boring Company said it will take over the unfinished Block 37 superstation in the city, which the company said is an "amazing facility", according to the Chicago Sun Times. No information has been released about estimated construction costs or when construction might begin.
The Boring Company is developing drilling technology that it says will be quicker and cheaper than current methods, and is in the process of building a test tunnel in and around Musk's SpaceX headquarters property in Hawthore, Calif. The alternative - by road - can take more than twice as long.
"Bringing Chicago's economic engines closer together will keep the city on the cutting edge of progress, create thousands of good-paying jobs and strengthen our great city for future generations", said Emanuel in a statement.
"This transformative project will help Chicago write the next chapter in our legacy of innovation and invention".
A view of rush-hour Blue Line traffic in Chicago on a Wednesday night. Getting it done - and at no cost to taxpayers - would be a major accomplishment for Emanuel, who's seeking his third term next year.
This comes about a month after Musk announced a plan for a high-speed network of "personalized mass transit tunnels" under Los Angeles.
Resistance to his tunneling project marks a somewhat new type of challenge for Musk.
The Chicago and Los Angeles projects come as Musk wrestles with production problems for the rollout of the highly anticipated Tesla Inc Model 3 sedan. He said the cuts amount to about 9 percent of the company's workforce of 40,000.
Musk's plan beat out competition from another bidder, O'Hare Xpress LLC, a consortium of investors and engineering and transit companies. For almost all of its history, Tesla has put up losses while investing heavily in technology, manufacturing plants and an extensive car-charging network. Video renderings of the system show autonomous vehicles that can pick up passengers at street level and then move them along concrete tubes to their destination.
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