Elon Musk Shows Off A “Boring” Tunnel Network To End L.A.’s Traffic Jams

This video shows that The Boring Company is about more than digging holes.


Elon Musk wants to dig a 3D network of holes underneath Los Angeles to alleviate roadway traffic. He offered a conceptual look at how such a system of tunnels would work in a video today during his interview at the 2017 TED Conference.


Elevators that look like simple parking spaces would take cars beneath street level to underground roadways, where the cars could speed along at 130 miles per hour. A person could theoretically get from Westwood to Los Angeles International Airport in 5 to 6 minutes—a commute that normally takes around 40 minutes.

He rejected the idea that a tunneling project would disrupt the lives of people who live in Los Angeles. “If that tunnel is dug more than 3 or 4 tunnel diameters beneath your house you will not be able to detect it being dug,” said Musk.

The cool stuff I see outside the office. Can't wait to see some tunnels! #theboringcompany #workperks

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How will he pull this off, and how much will it cost? Musk estimates the cost of the Los Angeles subway extension to be approximately a billion dollars per mile and believes he can reduce those costs by tenfold through correcting inefficiencies that are endemic to traditional tunneling techniques. For one, he plans to make the diameter of the tunnels only 12 feet wide, much smaller than the typical 26-28 feet. He also says that a machine that tunnels and reinforces continuously will allow the burrowing process to go more quickly—especially if he were to increase the power of such a machine. Just yesterday, an image of The Boring Company‘s gigantic digging machine was posted on Instagram by one of SpaceX’s engineers. Musk first revealed his aspirations to build a new system of underground transit last December.

When asked why underground rather than flying cars he said, “If there are a whole bunch of flying cars that’s not an anxiety reducing situation.”

[Photo: Bret Hartman, courtesy of TED]

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Ruth Reader is a writer for Fast Company. She covers the intersection of health and technology.