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Drilling to begin in ‘3 to 4 months’ on Elon Musk’s O’Hare Express

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Chicago will be the first real, ‘useful’ example of The Boring Company’s technology

Courtesy of the Chicago Mayor’s office

Billionaire entrepreneur, Elon Musk joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a news conference to officially announce The Boring Company’s high-speed transit system from Block 37 to O’Hare airport.

“Chicago is known as the city of the L, and from this day forward we’ll also be known as the city with the X,” the mayor said in his opening remarks.

He sold the 12-minute ride as a way to merge the central business district with a global airport—following in the footsteps of London‘s high speed train. Emanuel sees this as step towards making Chicago a “city of the future,” he said.

Drilling on both ends from the airport and Block 37 will begin in 3 to 4 months, pending environmental and other regulatory approvals, Musk said. Ideally, he said the tunnel will be operational 18 to 24 months after rigorous safety testing. One advantage to working in Chicago is that there are fewer agencies needed for project clearance, he said, which allows for a more streamlined process.

Eventually, there could be a TSA security clearance downtown so that the Tesla railcars could deliver people to directly to their terminal. While that’s not part of current plan, Musk said it was included in the original idea.

The mayor and Musk both railed against any doubters, and while Musk did say there is a place for critical questions, both appeared confident in the safety, finances, and timeline of the project.

Musk had no problem raising the funds—an estimated $500 million to $1 billion—and wasn’t worried that operational costs would exceed the revenue generated from the $20 to $25 tickets.

When confronted with the possibility of failure, the entrepreneur said the only risk would be that he and other investors could “lose a bunch of money.” The project is completely funded by Musk, the city bears no financial responsibility.

So what’s in it for Musk? He gets a chance to prove the viability of his tunnel transportation system and Tesla-made railcars. While he already is building a tunnel system in Los Angeles, he said the test tunnel currently being built is “too short” to prove anything.

“Chicago is giving us an opportunity to show that it can be useful and economically viable on a large scale,” Musk said.

The tunnel system will have more impact in Chicago, he said. About 20,000 people travel to and from O’Hare everyday and that number is expected to grow upwards of 35,000 in 2045.

At the end of the conference, the mayor gifted Musk with a Chicago flag to hang in his office—coincidentally on Flag Day. Musk returned the favor with a “limited edition” The Boring Company hat and no, it did not come with a flamethrower.