Boring Company makes a pitch for Chicago tunnel

Underground tunnel system
Elon Musk’s vision calls for building networks of underground tunnels to get around surface street congestion. (Boring Company Illustration)

The Boring Company, created by billionaire Elon Musk to revolutionize the market for tunnels and flamethrowers, is one of four ventures to put in bids to build a high-speed transit system between downtown Chicago and O’Hare International Airport.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel listed the respondents on Feb. 7 in a news release, and said the next step will be to determine which of the ventures are truly qualified to build, finance, operate and maintain the O’Hare Express.

The system is required to run shuttles every 15 minutes or less, with a downtown-to-airport transit time of no more than 20 minutes, for a fare that’s less than the cost of current taxi and rideshare services.

The Chicago Infrastructure Trust leaves it to the bidders to come up with the best way to make that happen. It could be by sending electric-powered pods through underground tunnels, which is the likeliest course for The Boring Company. But the system also could make use of above-ground tracks.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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