Elon Musk Prepares to Start Tunneling Project at Las Vegas Convention Center
After years of planning and months of waiting, Elon Musk's, The Boring Company (TBC), will begin construction on the Las Vegas Underground Loop System on Friday, November 15th.
The first phase of construction includes opening up a tunnel underneath the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC), and the boring machine is already in place 40 feet below the surface, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and news reports.
TBC plans on having the project completed by CES 2021, Las Vegas's largest trade show, typically held in January. The LVCC Loop will be able to transport about 4,400 people per hour, more than 100,000 per day.
The completed Loop project has room for expansion, but the first phase is the LVCC Loop which includes two 0.8 mile vehicle tunnels and a pedestrian tunnel connecting three underground passenger stations to complement the recent expansion of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The Loop will shorten a 15-minute walk to a one-minute ride across the 200-acre LVCC campus. Up to 16 passengers will travel in 7-seat Tesla Model Xs with extended chassis and special wheels. These are autonomous electronic vehicles (AEV), which can travel up to 155 miles per hour. The plans show the vehicles have no place to turn around, so they will travel in reverse too.
Maintaining safety is important, so the LVCC will ensure each vehicle also has a human driver monitor the vehicles.
Although the LVCC Loop project has excited many Las Vegas residents, visitors, and convention-goers, not all are happy about the project. Currently, the Las Vegas Monorail System is a four-mile route, mostly along the Las Vegas Strip, which can carry up to 67,000 passengers per day throughout the city at it's busiest time.
The Monorail, with CEO Curtis Myles at the helm, has been fighting the LVCC Loop project since the LVCVA approved the $48.7 million contract in May 2019.
Will the Loop Damage the Monorail?
In June 2019, Myles authored a letter to Clark County planning officials expressing concern that TBC's "underground people mover system" intersects with the Monorail system route.
According to Myles, the tunnel plans interfere with existing Monorail columns, causing concerns about loads. Monorail's legal team further clarified the position, explaining that vibration is as much of a concern as contact and damage can shut down the Monorail. Additionally, Monorail, with the help of their attorney, lobbied the Winchester Town Board to ramp up oversight on the LVCC Loop project and require TBC to work with Monorail during construction to protect the system's columns.
The board agreed and made their approval conditional on TBC's cooperation and coordination Monorail and Las Vegas Public Works. After working through these struggles, TBC will still begin construction on November 15th.
Future Las Vegas Tunnels
The above-ground Monorail and the Loop will not immediately compete, but once the project becomes citywide, this will change.
Once the LVCC Loop is completed in 2021 it will include escalators and elevators so passengers can easily reach underground stations, covered entrances and exits, landscaping, lighting, video surveillance, and more.
TBC has plans for expansion which include tunnels that serve McCarran International Airport, hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas Stadium, and Downtown.
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