Guess Elon wasn’t joking
For a few months, billionaire Elon Musk has been cryptically tweeting about digging a giant tunnel. Turns out he wasn’t kidding.
Musk is literally digging a way out of traffic. In December, Musk tweeted he was going to “build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging” since traffic was bothering him so much. Then during a student competition held at SpaceX, Musk tweeted “we start digging the tunnel tonight.”
This is not an admission of guilt, but sometimes when I’m sitting in gridlock traffic on I-35, I look things up on my phone. Most frequently visited: “why is I-35 traffic so awful?” I once read there was a plan to scrap the street and go for a subterranean tunnel situation instead. I think about this often as I’m idling on the interstate.
Exciting and troubling news
So Musk’s announcement both troubles and excites me. Can any billionaire decide to dig an underground highway for themselves? Is it that easy? The SpaceX event that heralded Musk’s announcement was a hyperloop pod competition. This term may not sound familiar, so let me phrase it in a way you might have dreamed of in your scifi fantasies: crazy-fast underground travel via vacuum power, 007 style.
Musk’s ultimate game plan is a traffic-evading underground wonderland of vacuum-propelled vehicles. As chief executive of space transportation company SpaceX, Musk has long proposed the idea of the hyperloop. Two years ago, Musk encouraged entrepreneurs and engineering students to build hyperloop pods. Now, the most recent competition sparked Musk’s announcement about digging.
So can I start digging my own tunnels?
While it is unclear if Musk actually has the legal permits required to begin digging, he noted on his Twitter that digging will begin around February or later. He plans on starting the tunnel at the SpaceX campus. According to Business Insider, the California Department of Transportation has not been contacted by Musk about tunnel plans.
Hawthorne City Manager Arnie Shadbehr notes permits aren’t required yet since the current plans situate the tunnel on Musk’s property. However, if he expands under Interstate 105, a flurry of permits will be required as well as environmental tests. And it is notable that each city, each state has different regulations – you may not own the earth underneath your property or the air rights above it.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Elon Musk definitely acquired a large earth drilling machine and broke ground on his tunnel…” quote=”Regardless, Musk definitely acquired a large earth drilling machine and broke ground on his tunnel. So this is cool but kind of unsettling.”]
I’ve been hoping for super fast travel since I first started watching Futurama, but I don’t know if I’m ready yet. Or at least, I don’t know if I’m ready for a lone ambitious billionaire to bring that future to me.
If Musk gets some serious infrastructure funding (which may actually be in the works), he can expand the project as an alternative transit route. For now, look forward to more tweets about the tunnel progress as you sit in traffic.