Tesla Tunnel Las Vegas – Still Expanding

Elon Musk’s Boring Company’s Teslas in Tunnels project will soon be expanding. In October of 2021, city officials in Clark County, Nevada gave the company the green light to build a network of tunnels in Las Vegas.

Called the Las Vegas Loop, the tunnels will be a broader version of the system that opened earlier in the year serving patrons of the Las Vegas Convention Center.  The company’s ultimate goal is to expand the underground loop system to connect to a broader area of Las Vegas, in particular, the Strip and the LAS airport. 

Teslas in Tunnels shuttle passengers through twin tunnels underneath the convention center. The 1.5-mile-long LVCC loop system has three stops convenient to convention-goers and is open to the public. The stations at each end are above ground while the middle station is 30 ft below ground, the same depth as the tunnels. The company has also released several new concepts for station designs including a surface station, a subsurface station, and an open-air subsurface station. 

A fleet of a few dozen Teslas was used during testing including Model 3 sedans, and Model Y and Model X SUVs. The company plans to use Models S, 3, and X for the Las Vegas Loop. The cars currently use human drivers for the system running underneath the convention center, and drivers can’t drive over 35 mph.

But the Boring Company is working on software to perform the feat of autonomous vehicles for the electric vehicles and travel faster.  It hopes to achieve Level 3 autonomous driving within a couple of years, a realistic goal since the vehicles follow painted lines and are relatively safe from hitting anything. 

Why “underground taxis” instead of using existing roads? “To solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic, roads must go 3D, which means either flying cars or tunnels are needed,” Boring explains. Tunnels have the advantage of being underground, out of sight, and weatherproof. T

The concept is to save valuable land space, and unlike flying cars, electric vehicles won’t crash and fall. Congestion in any city can be alleviated with underground tunnels, and as a city expands, levels of tunnels can be added. 

But the advantage of tunnels also comes with some disadvantages. One disadvantage is the construction costs of tunnels as opposed to the costs of surface roads or tram tracks on wide medians like the Las Vegas Strip. Groundwater and other geological issues are also a part of tunnel construction, so preparing the tunnels for travel can take a longer time than the actual tunneling. 

The company intends to counter these issues with speed in building tunnels while also lowering construction costs. The Prufrock tunneling machine can be deployed and ready for use within 48 hours of arriving at the site. One mile per week can be completed. A short-term goal for the company is to exceed 1/10th of the walking speed of a human.

Of course, construction involves far more than simply boring tunnels. Interlocking tunnels walls and paved driving surfaces must be considered. Additionally, there are some scaling limitations to consider since the size of the tunnels won’t accommodate vehicles such as buses or semi-trucks. 

Still, the Boring Company hopes the Vegas Loop is the start of the project rather than the end. The next stage is to make all the casinos on the Las Vegas Strip quick and easy to access in comfort, and after that, tunnels that lead to the airports. This new way of travel can then be expanded to other cities. 

With its planned 29 miles of tunnels connecting 51 stations in the center of Las Vegas, there’s no doubt that this innovative project will be a plus for tourism. Travelers can be whisked from place to place with no long waits in the brutal Vegas heat. But while it may be good for the environment, i.e. zero emissions and the conservation of the land surface area, the company’s tagline of express “public transportation” is disingenuous.

The proposed tunnel map doesn’t include the majority of Las Vegas residencies but rather is designed to enrich shareholders and casinos, and is effortless advertising for Telsa.  And while it may be faster than a subway in the future, only a few customers are served at a time. The labor force for the casinos, those who work and generally pay their fair share of income taxes must still bear the drudgery of long commutes. 

Header image courtesy of Thomas Hawk

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