Earlier this month, Elon Musk’s The Boring Company (TBC) proposed a deal with Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to build a tunnel between downtown and the beach. The proposal was accepted on July 6 and is now open to a competitive bidding process.
If the project goes through, Fort Lauderdale would be the first city to get the loop system on the East Coast. The Fort Lauderdale tunnel would be the second project for the company.
The first loop system from TBC was built under the Las Vegas Convention Center and cost around $47 million, as reported by Business Insider. Here are more details about TBC’s Fort Lauderdale plans.
A loop system could help reduce traffic congestion on the way to the beach
How is a loop system beneficial?
According to Mayor Dean Trantalis, “The tunnel could be a really innovative way of reducing traffic congestion and addressing transit needs”. He added that other firms would have 45 days to relay competing proposals, following the approval by city officials.
The beach-to-city tunnel would be called the “Las Olas Loop,” referring to a local road that leads to the beach. Earlier in the year, city officials said the company would offer rides to hundreds of people each day in Teslas. This would cost $5 to $8 per person, as reported by CNN.
Tesla’s current Las Vegas Loop and its issues
Fort Lauderdale formally accepted tonight a proposal from @elonmusk's @boringcompany to build an underground transit system between downtown and the beach. Other firms have 45 days to submit competing proposals. This could be a truly innovative way to reduce traffic congestion. pic.twitter.com/R7Bh2NPVnl
The company’s first loop was launched in Las Vegas back in April and officially opened in June. It features a 1.7-mile loop under the Las Vegas Convention Center with three stops.
In December 2020, it was approved for an expansion into downtown Las Vegas to connect to the McCarran International Airport, according to Business Insider. When complete, a typical trip to the airport from the Las Vegas strip would take about seven minutes through the tunnel.
The major point of concern from transport planners about the loop is that using cars for public transit through a tunnel is inefficient. The tunnel would carry more people via bus or train. If the loop carries hundreds of passengers each day, it’d still be half the capacity of Broward County Transit’s bus lines that run in Fort Lauderdale.
However, the local government still sees the Las Olas Loop as a way to reduce the parking stress that drivers experience at beaches. Drivers can park their vehicles downtown at the Brightline train station, then ride in Teslas to the beach.
TBC also claims to be using a more efficient way of tunneling, which reduces tunneling costs to 1% of the usual amount. If this is true, tunneling projects would be much more affordable for governments.
Las Olas Loop project challenges
According to Brian Gettinger, leader of tunneling at Freese and Nichols, “tunnels are usually considered a last resort option in infrastructure. He added, “They are usually set up when nothing works because they are more expensive.”
However, tunneling technology has advanced significantly over the past couple of years. New techniques help prevent flooding of water and earth from flooding excavation sites, making it a viable option in many more places.
Florida’s limestone makes it hard to use a tunneling machine since there are natural holes in it, as reported by CNN. Tunnelers generally prefer solid rock, which makes it easier to fine-tune its machines to consistent conditions. Another limiting factor is that the state also has underground aquifers that need protection. Climate change in the region also presents the risk of rising sea levels and potentially flooding the tunnels.
According to Trantalis, TBC, in conjunction with the city, is currently studying the city’s geology to develop the best possible path to the beach. Musk also met with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez to discuss the construction of a $30 million tunnel under the city.
TBC’s Fort Lauderdale plans aren’t released yet since state law prohibits this until the bidding process is complete.
The future for The Boring Company loops
If the Las Olas Loop succeeds and manages to alleviate traffic in Fort Lauderdale, we’ll likely see other states starting to implement a loop system in the most congested cities. TBC must also compete with other tunneling companies to lead these projects.
If you drive a Tesla and are worried about overpaying for car insurance, Jerry can help. The free AI-powered app compares rates from 50 top insurance companies so you get the best price for the coverage you need.