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Musk’s Boring Company Seeks Culver City Approval

Image is the inside of a concrete tunnel used for trains.Martin Feinberg, Culver City Realtor, was interested to learn that a representative from Elon Musk’s Boring Company met with the Culver City City Council to seek permission to dig a tunnel under the community. The tunnel would be a part of Musk’s dream of easing traffic congestion in urban areas by moving people underground and transporting them on special trains called Hyperloops.

On Monday night Jehn Balajadia, Boring Company Operation Chief, met with the Culver City Council for 45 minutes in an attempt to secure Council approval for Musk’s project. Boring Company has already created a test trench under SpaceX headquarters after getting permission to build underneath the city streets of Hawthorne. Now the company is seeking permission to expand and create a “proof of process” tunnel under Culver City.

The tunnel would be approximately 6.5 miles long and would run between Los Angeles and the Culver City Real Estate area. The goal, as outlined by Balajadia, is not just to prove it could dig the tunnel but to also show that the company could navigate the challenges of building across jurisdictions.

Balajadia explained that the company was already working with the city of Los Angeles to get an excavation permit and was working with Caltrans (the state transportation agency) to secure right away underneath roads. Not everyone on Culver City’s City council was on board.

Balajadia explained that the small pods used to transport multiple passengers along tracks at speeds of up to 150 miles an hour would compliment the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s public transportation network and be roughly the same price. The project would also not require any taxpayer money. Not everyone on the City Council responded favorably though.

Councilwoman Meghan Sahli-Wells expressed her worry that the private transportation company would ultimately compete with public transit systems saying, “I don’t really trust a private company to watch out for equity [in transportation system options] because I haven’t seen it happen. It looks super sexy and super easy but it’s half-baked from a public perspective.”

Culver City Mayor Jeffry Cooper was more supportive however, stating, “I think there’s still so much to vet out and so much technology that’s going to move forward, but we’re a very forward thinking city. I think it would be foolhardy of us to just say no.”

Martin Feinberg, Realtor, noted Mayor Cooper’s suggestion that Boring Company needed to present a more solid proposal to the City Council in the future though.

Balajadia did reveal more details about Boring Company’s technical plans, explaining the tunnel system would have entrances and exists but unlike subways, each passenger pod would have only one stop rather than stopping multiple times along a predetermined route.

According to Boring Company, “The electric skates are faster than conventional subway cars, and are autonomous vehicles. Most importantly, [Hyper]Loop is an ‘express’ public transit system… Therefore, unlike trains, the skate’s average speed is very close to its maximum speed.”

Tunneling experts are skeptical of Musk’s ability to bring his dream to fruition however, expressing concern not only in the technology of the Hyperloop but also in the company’s ability to construct the tunnel.   Skeptics also doubt the company’s ability to get the permits and hire the contractors necessary for such a project. That was a concern that the Culver City City Council shared.

Image is a red and blue sign that reads "underground."City Manager John Nachbar stated that the project “would require significant staff investment.” Nachbar noted that the city would likely have to hire consultants to guide the city and the company through the process. He stated, “This would be, for us, a rather monumental effort.”

For her part, Balajadia stated that Boring Company would be willing to pay for the added consultants needed.