The city of Fort Lauderdale, Florida has accepted a proposal from Elon Musk’s Boring Company to build a transportation tunnel that would bring people from downtown to the beach, according to Mayor Dean J. Trantalis in a tweet late Tuesday. And if Musk’s previous tunnel efforts are any guide, the residents of Fort Lauderdale should prepare to be severely underwhelmed.
“Other firms have 45 days to submit competing proposals. This could be a truly innovative way to reduce traffic congestion,” Mayor Trantalis tweeted optimistically, apparently oblivious to Musk’s track record.
Musk has completed just one commercial tunneling project and let’s just say it’s nowhere close to the billionaire’s original promises for what he calls high-speed “Loop” technology.
Originally, Musk proposed a system that used fully autonomous vehicles that could hold 16 passengers. The vehicles were supposed to glide along at 150 miles per hour. It all sounded so shiny and new and exciting.
But when Musk held a media event to show off his experimental tunnel in Los Angeles in late 2018, journalists were disappointed. The project was nothing like the slick animations we all saw during the development stage and some even compared the experience as riding on a dirt road.
How is Musk’s transportation project in Las Vegas faring, as the lone tunneling project he’s gotten off the ground? Sadly, it’s nothing close to autonomous vehicles running at 150 miles per hour. The Vegas loop system is comprised of plain electric cars being driven by humans at 30-40 miles per hour. Musk appears to have invented humans driving slowly in a tunnel.
What about all of Musk’s other projects in cities like Chicago? Those have been quietly scrubbed from the Boring Company’s website, despite big splashy press conferences featuring Musk himself.
“It will take longer to get through security at O’Hare than to get to O’Hare,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at a press conference with Musk in June of 2018.
Needless to say, that never happened for the Windy City.
Could Fort Lauderdale be a different story? That all depends on whether Musk is ready to try the three things that made his early proposal for the loop concept so valuable: 1) autonomous driving, 2) high speeds at around 150 miles per hour, and 3) high-capacity vehicles.
Without those benefits, it’s unclear what the appeal could be for any city in the world to build one of Musk’s tunnels, let alone the appeal for a city in what insurance companies call a Special Flood Hazard Area. Just ask Houston what its downtown tunnels look like after a bad storm. It’s not pretty.