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Experts Are Skeptical Elon Musk’s Boring Co. Tunnels Will Expand

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  • Elon Musk’s Boring Co. Las Vegas tunnel made its debut on Tuesday. 
  • Officials in Fort Lauderdale, Florida are hopeful it could also soon have a tunnel, NBC News reported.
  • Industry experts say it’s unlikely the Boring Co.’s tunnels will expand. 
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As Elon Musk’s Boring Co. tunnel in Las Vegas opens, industry experts are skeptical the company would be able to complete similar projects in other cities, NBC News reported. 

The Las Vegas system officially debuted on Tuesday, but people who tested it at the end of May said it was inefficient, with cars getting backed up behind each other in the 1.7 miles of tunnels, delaying trips that were supposed to only take a few minutes. 

Musk’s tunnels use Teslas to transport four people in each car. The Boring Co. website said their tunnels could cut building costs and ease traffic, as well as being constructed faster than conventional tunnels. According to the website, it can cost as much as $1 billion for every mile of conventional tunnel. However, more costly conventional tunnels use trains that can carry hundreds of passengers. 

Jian Zhao, a professor of civil engineering and a tunnel boring expert at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, told the outlet he didn’t see how Musk’s company would be “able to do things as they promised. I don’t see any new technology being mentioned.”

In the process of launching the Las Vegas tunnel, officials from cities in Florida have visited, including Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, as they hope to have tunnels installed in their cities. 

Suarez told the Miami Herald Musk had offered to construct a tunnel in the city in around six months. It would cost approximately $30 million.

Fort Lauderdale is also hoping to build a tunnel and Vice Mayor Heather Moraitis sent Gov. Ron DeSantis a letter asking the state to fund a project. 

NBC reported that officials in Fort Lauderdale are closely monitoring how the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority paid for the tunnel. 

While Fort Lauderdale officials estimated it would cost about $30 million to build the tunnel, it’s not yet clear who would pay for it, WTVJ reported. There’s no plan yet to see if taxpayers, the Florida state government, or the Boring Co. would pick up the tab.

Musk also had proposed projects in Los Angeles and Washington DC. In April, the Boring Co. scrubbed mentions of the two projects from its website.

The plans to connect Washington and Baltimore via an underground tunnel were announced in 2017 but an environmental assessment in 2019 stopped the project in its tracks. Bloomberg reported that for the project to continue, the Federal Highway Administration would have to declare the tunnel would have no environmental impact or do a more in-depth review for it to move forward. 

Plans to build an underground shuttle to Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium were announced in 2018, but the location for the entrance to the tunnel was never determined.  In 2020, city officials also said the project was still undergoing an environmental review by an outside company, but no update on the status has been given, Bloomberg reported. 

The removal of the mention of the projects seems to suggest they may never actually be completed. Boring Co. did not respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

Additionally, a plan to build a tunnel in Chicago also never reached fruition, after it lost Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s support, the Chicago Tribune reported.

While the Boring Co. projects haven’t materialized in several cities, NBC reported that officials in Fort Lauderdale remain optimistic. 

“We are an organization that can and will eliminate the red tape that has historically existed in government,” Chris Lagerbloom, Fort Lauderdale’s city manager, told NBC. 

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