Plans for Musk’s tunnel in Las Vegas worry monorail makers


Planning documents, obtained by TechCrunch, reveal a lot about how Elon Musk’s Las Vegas Loop works. The Boring Company is responsible for constructing three tunnels: one for pedestrians and two for the passenger “sleds” stretching across the campus of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The two vehicle tunnels will be filled with a fleet of Tesla-based autonomous electric vehicles that can carry up to 16 people at a time.

However, there are concerns that the digging needed to build the Musk Loop is happening too close to the adjacent Las Vegas monorail. Like TechCrunch reports, Monorail officials have been pushing for more surveillance and raised objections on tunnels passing near the support pillars of the Monorail. Given the tight tolerances involved, it’s likely that a small disturbance could shut down the elevated railway.

The Las Vegas Convention Center is a sprawling complex with approximately 3.2 million square feet of exhibition space in its many halls. Soon, a new building with an additional 1.4 million square feet will be added, with construction underway on Elvis Presley Boulevard. This expansion, dubbed “Phase Two”, is expected to open in 2023, followed by a costly renovation of existing buildings.

If you wanted to walk from the south hall front door to the new building, you would walk almost a mile and a half. That half-hour of walking each way isn’t ideal for visitors to the show trying to cover so much ground in a short period of time. And so the organization started looking for movers who could close that distance, with Musk’s Loop standing out as one of the early candidates.

The plans suggest a route that starts from the phase two building, crosses the central parking lot of the LVCC and ends at the back of the south hall. On the ground floor, small subway-like entrances filtered down to a mezzanine, below which were the two platforms. What is not clear, at the moment, is how the pods would pull apart from each other when they reached the terminus at either end with no turn space.

At this point, it is suggested that the autonomous passenger sleds are based on Tesla’s electric vehicles. But according to comments from Jane Labanowski, head of the Boring Company, these vehicles will have a human driver, or at least an agent. This will likely increase the price and cost of horseback riding, at least if things don’t change by the proposed project deadline of January 2021.

These preliminary documents are obviously not exhaustive architectural plans, and therefore we cannot draw too many conclusions from them. But, if the system is as simple as a driven Tesla vehicle going through a tunnel, then the finished project could be quite disappointing. And expensive, compared to the cost of, say, just marking one of the nearby routes exclusively for the shuttles going back and forth between the halls.

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