Elon Musk wins improbably cheap bid to dig a tunnel through Chicago

It's a first for the Boring Company and a sign of support for Musk

Conceptual drawing of the Block 37 superstation, when completed as the downtown terminal for The Chicago Express Loop, a high-speed public transit system to O'Hare International Airport.

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.

"We're really excited to work with the Mayor and the City to bring this new high-speed public transportation system to Chicago!" the company said in a tweet. Loop's novel underground transportation system must adapt electric transport technology developed at Tesla to subterranean applications.

Drilling for the project, pending regulatory and environmental approvals, could begin in as soon as three to four months, said Musk, who also founded and heads luxury electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc and rocket maker SpaceX. The system will operate 20 hours a day, seven days a week.

Musk's plan proposes a 16-passenger autonomous vehicle that can whip passengers at speeds up to 100 miles per hour through tunnels between the airport and downtown. Public transit from the airport to downtown now takes approximately 45 minutes.

Musk is banking on being able to tunnel much faster than any other company, although his technology remains unproven. The company will now begin negotiations with the city of Chicago on a final deal for the project.

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The big news was followed by a big question: Can another company founded by Elon Musk do something never done with technology not yet tested on a scale not attempted before? Thus far, the company has received a permit to dig up a parking lot in Washington, DC, and it has received permission from the state of Maryland to build a 10-mile tunnel "beneath a state-owned portion of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway".

"We're taking a bet on a guy who doesn't like to fail - and his resources".

"The risk - with no financial risk - is I'm betting on a guy who has proven in space, auto and now a tunnel, that he can innovate and create something of the future", said Emanuel. In addition to the no-taxpayer-funding requirement, the city also said that The Boring Company would have to agree "to ensure taxpayers would be protected against any costs incurred by an incomplete project".

Musk's claims that his Tesla models are the safest cars on the road have come under some scrutiny, in particular the Autopilot semi-autonomous driving system. A source told The Chicago Tribune that the target is in the $20 to $25 range.

The new system is expected to cost less than $1 billion, the Chicago Tribune reported.

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