There are rumors, then there are rumors. This one’s off-the-chart, and remember you heard it here first.
Word is demented genius Elon Musk is eyeballing the Las Vegas Strip for one of his underground “Loop” transportation projects.
Our understanding is there have been exploratory conversations involving Elon Musk’s tunnel construction company, The Boring Company, and major players in town.
The goal: To create a tunnel system which could connect the Las Vegas Convention Center to Mandalay Bay and McCarran International Airport, with stops in between.
The mind reels.
In case you’ve been living under a rock without access to the Internet, here’s a quick overview of Elon Musk’s tunneling efforts.
Eccentric bajillionaire Elon Musk founded The Boring Company in 2016 after becoming frustrated with L.A. traffic.
Musk’s Boring Company recently made international headlines with the unveiling of a test tunnel in Hawthorne, California. It cost about $10 million to build the 1.14-mile demonstration tunnel. No, that’s not a typo. Ten million. Keep that number in mind as we proceed.
Basically, these tunnels bypass surface street traffic, allowing either private vehicles or automated electric cars to travel quickly between stops.
Here’s a look at what we’re talking about.
See more about these projects at the official Boring Company Web site.
So, in one case, Elon Musk’s underground transportation system will bring people to a sports stadium (Dodgers Stadium). In another case, it will take people to an airport (O’Hare in Chicago).
It doesn’t take a bajillionaire genius to connect the dots.
That sound you hear is heads exploding at the Las Vegas Monorail and Nevada Taxicab Authority.
As you might suspect, it’s no coincidence this rumor has surfaced as Vegas looks ahead to the completion of the new Raiders stadium in 2020. Concerns about snarled traffic and insufficient parking have plagued the Raiders stadium from the beginning.
The Elon Musk rumor also comes on the heels of ongoing delays related to a monorail extension (to Mandalay Bay) for which $110 million in financing is likely to never materialize.
The Las Vegas Monorail has been a financial disappointment from day one, and the failure of the monorail to connect to the airport leaves it vulnerable to a bigger, better (and less expensive) idea stealing the limelight.
In addition, Las Vegas is making a huge investment in convention business with its $935 million expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center. A lot is riding on the expansion, and if you’ve ever been near the convention center during a big event, you’ve seen the challenges of conventioneers arriving and departing.
Imagine an “urban loop system” like the ones proposed for Chicago and L.A., but in Las Vegas.
So, the next question: Who would pay for it?
Well, here’s the thing.
Other Elon Musk tunnel projects have included these magical words: “This project would be 100% privately funded.”
Trust us, nothing brings more joy to a politician or governmental body than the phrase “privately funded.”
And remember, Elon Musk’s tunnels are being constructed for a fraction of the cost of traditional systems. The test tunnel in L.A. cost $10 million per mile.
Some current tunnel projects cost as much as $1 billion per mile.
How does The Boring Company raise funds? In the most entertaining ways possible. Remember, this is the company that sold flamethrowers, earning the company about $10 million in 100 hours.
While there would surely be obstacles to getting Elon Musk’s urban loop system built in Las Vegas, there’s no denying it has the potential to change everything.
And before you dismiss such a project as unrealistic, take a moment to think about the big ideas that have helped transform and shape Las Vegas in the past.
The history of Sin City is brimming with outlandish ideas and dreamers who made those crazy ideas a reality.
There are always skeptics about crazy ideas, but more times than we can count those skeptics have been silenced by breakthrough success. Las Vegas wasn’t built by detractors, it was built by the people who ignored the detractors. It was built by disruptors.
Elon Musk is a disruptor and a dreamer, and sometimes those dreams become reality. From what we’ve heard, one of those dreams may just be making its way to, and beneath, the Las Vegas Strip.
Here are a ton of links to stories about Elon Musk and The Boring Company. First, you might want to check out this Boring FAQ.
Elon Musk Unveils First High-Speed Loop Tunnel by The Boring Company
Dig Your Crazy Tunnel, Elon Musk
Despite Bumpy Test Ride, City Officials Convinced Musk’s O’Hare Express Can Work
Watch What It’s Like to Ride Inside Elon Musk’s First Boring Company Tunnel
Elon Musk Unveils His First Los Angeles-Area Tunnel
Elon Musk’s First Tunnel is Finished
Elon Musk Unveils Boring Company Tunnel, Promising a New Era in High-Speed Transportation
Stay tuned, and we’d love to hear what you think.
Update (3/6/19): Our story has been confirmed by the Associated Press and others. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced it is recommending a contract to build and operate an underground tunnel system for the Las Vegas Convention Center, tentatively called the Las Vegas Convention Center Loop.
In the future, the system could be expanded to the entire resort corridor (connecting The Strip, downtown and McCarran airport). The cost is expected to be $35 million to $55 million.