Las Vegas is officially getting Boring. The gambling capital of America has selected Elon Musk’s The Boring Company to enter into exclusive contract negotiations to design, construct, and operate an underground transit line for the Las Vegas Convention Center. The contract for the transit line, known as the Loop, is worth $48.6 million. But questions about what a Boring Company Loop will actually look like still remain.
“Las Vegas has been looking for congestion solutions for decades,” said Steve Hill, CEO of Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun yesterday. “This project is going to be a real benefit to our customers, but it also has an opportunity because it’s innovative and leads to a low-cost system, to help solve congestion problems not only in the resort corridor but throughout the community.”
The LVCVA’s board was overwhelmingly in favour of The Boring Company’s proposal with a 13-1 vote. The sole holdout was Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who earlier this month cited the company’s lack of experience.
The LVCVA may be on board, but Mayor Goodman’s concerns are shared around the country. While the company has teased projects in Chicago and Maryland, those have faced the type of civic hangups (lack of political allies, environmental assessments) that Musk has managed to avoid in his other ventures, including SpaceX and Tesla.
The Loop will consist of a tunnel and a modified Tesla Model X chassis, which the company calls an autonomous electric vehicle (AEV). The AEV will transport up to 16 passengers with both sitting and standing room at speeds up to 155 MPH, according to the company.
“Everybody’s going to learn whether they can complete a project,” said Juan Matute, deputy director of the Institute for Transportation Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, speaking to Bloomberg. “It provides a model for other agencies to look at and possibly replicate down the line.”
Last year, construction began on an expansion of the current Las Vegas Convention Center. The addition will add 4 million square feet to the facility, including at least 600,000 square feet of new, leasable exhibit space. The expanded wing of the convention center is across the street from the current setup.
The Boring Company’s Loop will be tasked with connecting the two buildings. Currently, the walk between the locations can take as long as 15 minutes. The Boring Company says it will reduce the trip to one minute.
But this is Musk, after all, and Musk doesn’t think small. There’s a section in The Boring company’s FAQ on the project dedicated to future expansions, which include “service extensions to McCarran International Airport, hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, downtown Las Vegas, Las Vegas Stadium, and, in the long term, Los Angeles.” That’s an imagined route of 270 miles.
The company will also have to beat back lowered expectations that came from last year’s demonstration in Los Angeles, which featured a real-life demonstration that felt decidedly less futuristic than some of the company’s earlier proposals.
But the company has beaten back expectations before: Back in December 2016, when Musk first announced his intentions to start a hole-digging company on Twitter, many thought it was a joke. And now the company has its first multi-million dollar contract. What happens next remains to be seen.
Originally published on Popular Mechanics