The Boring Company, Elon Musk’s project to build underground highways to alleviate traffic congestion, received approval Wednesday to expand its “Vegas Loop,” an underground tunnel system beneath Las Vegas that shuttles passengers via Tesla vehicles.
The expansion, approved by Clark County, Nevada commissioners, will expand the network by 25 miles, allowing for 18 new stations that extend the tunnel network out from the Las Vegas Strip corridor.
TechCrunch recently reported on the proposed expansion, which would increase the underground transport system to 65 miles of tunnels underneath Sin City designed to help people reach more casinos, retail zones, the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus and residential areas.
The system was originally planned to feature 29 miles of tunnels with 51 stations. The Vegas Loop’s current footprint is about 2.2 miles, and it includes five stops including four around the Las Vegas Convention Center and Resorts World. Westgate and Encore are currently under construction. The company said it just surpassed 1 million total passengers, and that the peak in one day was more than 32,000 passengers.
The commission approved the updated plan in a 6-1 vote after TBC attorney Stephanie Allen confirmed that the company, not the taxpayer, would fund the project entirely. Last year, TBC raised $675 million to scale Loop projects such as this one.
Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick was the only one to vote against, citing concerns that the long-term transit system plan doesn’t take into account employees of resorts and casinos who have to travel into the city for work.
“I would hope there are long-term conversations on what that looks like so we can ensure that people can access it; not just the tourists,” said Kirkpatrick. “Because we have an equal amount of workers that have to go on this trip and it’s getting harder and harder for them to get there. I have received a lot of calls from my district on how long it takes to get there because of construction.”
Allen responded saying TBC had plans to expand into residential areas to the north, west and east of the strip.
Kirkpatrick also expressed concerns for the amount of infrastructure being built around the airport, and wanted to ensure that TBC was working in approval with the Federal Aviation Commission.
Some of the newly planned stations will be placed on Las Vegas Boulevard near the airport, as well as in Chinatown, at UNLV, Town Square Las Vegas and Harmon Square. A sample trip between the airport and the Las Vegas Convention Center, a 4.9-mile journey, could take five minutes and cost $10, according to Allen.
Around the same time TBC last raised funds, Musk tweeted that the company would still attempt to use the tunnels for the largely theoretical hyperloop technology, the idea that a transport system could zoom passengers and cargo in pods through low-pressure tubes at speeds of over 600 miles per hour. While the company said it would begin “full-scale” hyperloop testing last year, there has been no indication that TBC has moved forward with this technology, nor will it be implemented in the Vegas Loop.
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