Los Angeles

City Councilman Wants LA to Expedite Elon Musk's Underground Tunnel Proposal

"Obviously there is a significant permitting process and environmental review ahead but this has the potential to be a fully fleshed out transit system alternative to the automobile.''

A Los Angeles city councilman said Thursday that he wants to help Elon Musk get the necessary permits the tech tycoon needs to develop his vision of a network of underground traffic tunnels funded entirely with private money.

"I have been advocating for a Personal Rapid Transit project like this since I got onto City Council eight years ago but nobody else has been able to come up with something viable and certainly not at such a low anticipated cost,'' Councilman Paul Koretz told City News Service in an email.

"Obviously there is a significant permitting process and environmental review ahead but this has the potential to be a fully fleshed out transit system  alternative to the automobile.''

Koretz, who is vice chair of the Transportation Committee, also introduced a motion on Tuesday that would direct various city departments to report on options the city can undertake to expedite the necessary permits Musk's Boring Co. needs to develop the tunnel technology.

"The Boring Company thanks the city of Los Angeles for its support of this project to help reduce soul-destroying traffic,'' a Boring Co. representative said in statement given to City News Service by Koretz's office.

Hawthorne leaders in August gave a green light to Musk's proposal to dig a two-mile test tunnel underneath the city, extending from the headquarters of his company SpaceX.

Musk said on Twitter he hopes to eventually get permission to dig the tunnel into Los Angeles and extend it from Los Angeles International Airport along the 405 Freeway to the San Fernando Valley's 101 Freeway within a year or so.  Boring Co. officials formally filed applications with the city earlier this month seeking approval to begin digging.

A YouTube video posted by the Boring Co. demonstrates that the system would not have trains, buses or moving automobiles, but electric mobile platforms that can carry either cars or pods for passengers capable of traveling up to 150 miles per hour.

Alison Simard, Koretz's spokeswoman, said the councilman planned to visit the existing tunnel in Hawthorne soon and has also met with officials from Boring.

"In an age when severe climate disruption is already upon us, we need to seriously consider the potential benefits: dramatically reduced traffic, and air pollution and a sharp reduction to our climate footprint,' Koretz said. Musk's underground tunnels are just one of a several bold ideas put forward lately by companies looking to revolutionize transportation in Los Angeles. Autonomous automobiles, flying electric taxis, hyperloops and electric personal mobility devices have also been proposed.

With so many possible advanced transportation ideas out there, City Councilman Mike Bonin included invitations to Uber, the Boring Co. and Hyperloop One to come before the Transportation Committee in a recently introduced motion, which also would direct the Department of Transportation and the Office of the Chief Legislative Analyst to prepare a report regarding issues the city needs to consider to prepare for regarding new and emerging transportation technologies.

"Any of these modes of transportation would be transformative -- and all of them will likely face technological, regulatory, and psychological hurdles,'' Bonin said.

"As a forward-looking city with a population hungry for better mobility options, Los Angeles must prepare for exciting new technologies, and consider the public policy and real world implications of flying vehicles, high-speed underground transit, and electric personal mobility devices on our streets,' he said.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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