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Elon Musk unveils video of his first underground L.A. tunnel, predicts rides within months

Elon Musk unveils video of his first underground L.A. tunnel, predicts rides within months
Video of tunnel (Elon Musk)

Angelenos may be able to hitch a ride through town on Elon Musk's first underground tunnel in just a few months — at least for a very short distance.

The entrepreneur offered a glimpse Thursday night of what riders can expect from his proposal to help unsnarl the city's traffic problems.

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The exact location of the tunnel shown in the video was not clear. It is believed the digging so far has occurred in and around his property in the Hawthorne area.

"First Boring Company tunnel under LA almost done!" he wrote on Instagram, with a video taking viewers through the tunnel. "Pending final regulatory approvals, we will be offering free rides to the public in a few months."

The City Council's public works committee last month unanimously approved an environmental review exemption for a tunnel that could run 2.7 miles through West Los Angeles, giving a space for Boring Co. engineers to build and test the proposed transportation technology.

The tunnel's proposed route runs parallel to Sepulveda Boulevard, starting at Pico Boulevard and running down to Washington Boulevard in Culver City. The tunnel entrance would be located in what is currently a lumber yard and welding area, the company has said.

Map of Musk's proposed tunnel from earlier this year. The route is depicted in a video animation released last year but not the video released Thursday. That video is of a small section of tunnel in Hawthorne.
Map of Musk's proposed tunnel from earlier this year. The route is depicted in a video animation released last year but not the video released Thursday. That video is of a small section of tunnel in Hawthorne. (Los Angeles Times)

The tunnel would be 30 to 70 feet below ground, and would not have any stations along the way, which would help avoid major utility lines and other underground hazards that can slow or complicate construction, the company said.

The progress comes about a year and a half after Musk complained about his commute on Twitter, declaring in December 2016 that he is going to "build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging."

A video released by the company last year showed a driver steering onto a car-sized platform at street level next to a curb. The platform sinks downward like an elevator. Then the platform, called a "skate," whisks the car laterally through the tunnel.

Pedestrians and cyclists could use the system by boarding a capsule that could carry eight to 16 people, the Boring Co. said. Musk said last year that he envisioned entry and exit points once per mile or so along the tunnel's route.

An underground interchange.
An underground interchange. (The Boring Co.)

The Boring Co. has posted maps online showing potential tunnels to Sherman Oaks, Long Beach Airport, Santa Monica, Dodger Stadium and USC.

A map by the Boring Co. shows potential tunnels throughout the area.
A map by the Boring Co. shows potential tunnels throughout the area. (Boring Co.)

Times staff writer Laura J. Nelson contributed to this report.

Twitter: @AleneTchek

UPDATES:

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6:35 a.m., May 11: This article was updated with additional details and background.

This article was originally published at 10:30 p.m. May 10.

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