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Will Elon Musk's Chicago airport tunnel solve a transportation problem?

  • 1.  Will Elon Musk's Chicago airport tunnel solve a transportation problem?

    Posted 06-25-2018 07:52 AM


    Mayor Rahm Emanuel and inventor Elon Musk don't only share memorable first names and national notoriety, they also both preside over troubled organizations: The Mayor over America's third largest city which is reeling from divisions by race, rising crime and a shrinking population, the inventor over  a highly valued company which has not made a profit yet and which is struggling to produce its most successful car model amidst rumors of sabotage.
    Banter among leaders in a failed subway station in Chicago (Tribune photo)

    Maybe the two had to find each other. This week the duo stood side by side in Chicago's underworld, specifically in the mothballed $400 million super-station to nowhere, a silent witness to a transportation dream having gone wrong.

    Musk and Emmanuel both were clad in tieless white shirts with the top buttons open to praise their deal. The Mayor taps the entrepreneur to build a high speed transit tunnel from downtown to O'Hare airport, a deal that costs the tax payer nothing, does the trip in under 20 minutes (apparently the city actually issued some kind of RFP, Musk estimates the actual time to be 12 minutes). Currently CTA's Blue Line needs 43 minutes for the same trip. All this and somehow also a use of the mothballed underground station for a fare not higher than an Uber ride, i.e. between $20-25. (The CTA charges $2.50) and an estimated construction cost of $1 billion. Musk thanked the Mayor "for betting on the Boring Company". The Mayor, in turn calls his gamble the fast lane to the future.
    "This is the fast lane to Chicago's future" (Mayor Emmanuel)
    the weak link at every subway station,the elevator. Every 30 seconds a van
    At the heart of the deal is a version of Musk's tunnel projects which initially made headlines as devices for a "hyperloop" but have since been down-scaled to regular tunnels with sleds running through them, no more talk about vacuums and speeds near the speed of sound. In California and Maryland some actual boring has allegedly already occurred. The tunnel technology in which relatively small boring machines cut through the underground much faster than the ever larger standard machines developed for train and road-tunnels is where Musk has placed his chips. His machines are supposed to work with high pressure, are battery powered and use the ....

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    [Klaus] Philipsen FAIA
    Archplan Inc. Philipsen Architects
    Baltimore MD
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