Is Elon Musk actually going to build a tunnel under L.A.?

Elon musk has tweeted that his plans to build a tunnel under L.A. are underway, but is this for real?

Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Heisenberg Media CC BY 2.0

When you're Elon Musk, people take you seriously.

Which is why everyone is questioning if the inventor/entrepreneur is actually going to build a tunnel under L.A. after he tweeted that plans to do just that were underway. But is this something he could actually make happen?

In IT Blogwatch, we don't know what to believe.

So what is going on? Melissa Etehad has the background:

Elon Musk...[proposed] on Twitter that he plans to dig a tunnel that could reduce Los Angeles traffic.
[Musk] last month told his...Twitter followers: “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging...” He...added “I am actually going to do this.” Early Wednesday, he backed that up, tweeting that he had made “exciting progress on the tunnel front” and intends to “start digging in a month or so.”

He must be kidding, right? Lots of people were wondering that. Chris Matyszczyk fills us in:

You might think that Musk is joking...However, asked by Twitterers about where the digging would start, he replied: "Starting across from my desk at SpaceX. Crenshaw and the 105 Freeway, which is 5 mins from LAX."
Still, Musk was asked: "So you were serious? Like seriously serious"...He replied expansively: "Yup."

Still, this seems farfetched. Nathan Bomey explains why we shouldn't write Musk off:

Musk is the entrepreneur who...reshaped mobile payments...sent rockets into space...and launched an electric-car company...the tweets are unlikely to be dismissed. He is, after all, being taken seriously about a possible Mars mission.

Ok, assuming this is actually happeing, what would he need to do to actually start building a tunnel? Olivia Solon is in the know:

Neither the Los Angeles department of city planning nor the bureau of engineering were aware of any permit applications...from Musk or his team...building a tunnel beneath any public right of way would require city council approval.
Even if Musk were to get approval, there are a number of additional hurdles...The first is the incredible challenge of digging tunnels. Tunnels under Boston and Seattle have experienced enormous...and expensive problems while under’s not clear that adding...a tunnel would have the desired effect...studies have shown that creating wider or new roads reduces congestion in the short term, but not in the long term.

But maybe a tunnel of that caliber is not what Musk has planned. Danielle Muoio thinks he has something else in mind:

The tunnel project...isn't designed to provide an alternative route to cut down on traffic, but to help SpaceX employees get to the company's parking lot...Musk tweeted...that the tunnel will start on the SpaceX campus at the intersection of Crenshaw Boulevard and Interstate 105.
Hawthorne City Manager Arnie Shadbehr...[said] that Musk has been working with city officials for...a year to build a tunnel under Crenshaw Boulevard that would let employees cross from the SpaceX campus to its parking lot...Musk doesn't need permits because the project is commencing on SpaceX's property. But Shadbehr added that extending the tunnel under Interstate 105 would be a more extensive project.

While to wait to find out what Musk really has planned, the Los Angeles Metro made him an offer:

We have a slightly used tunnel boring machine we could sell you in a couple of months. Works like a charm. Hit us up.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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