MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis is leading a group of South Florida officials on a trip to Las Vegas and Los Angeles to determine whether it would be feasible to use Elon Musk’s Boring Company to build an underground tunnel for commuter rail service in South Florida.
Trantalis and County Vice Mayor Michael Udine held a teleconference last month with Elon Musk’s Boring Company regarding the possibility of building a 3-mile long tunnel under the New River as a way to ease traffic.READ MORE: 3-Mile Tunnel Idea Inspired By Elon Musk Would Help Ease Fort Lauderdale Traffic
“This represents an exciting possibility that could dramatically reshape the future growth of downtown as well as resolve long-standing traffic problems. And even more importantly, there is the chance that the project could be done for substantially less than anyone ever imagined,” said Trantalis in the Mayor’s newsletter.
Trantalis is being joined by City Manager Chris Lagerbloom, chief of staff Scott Wyman, Vice Mayor Michael Udine and the county’s rail expert. Officials from Florida East Coast Railroad officials including a rail infrastructure expert and its tunneling consultant are also in the group.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who has also been talking to Elon Musk about building a tunnel in downtown Miami, was supposed to attend as well but will be taking a separate trip at a later date.
The group will be visiting the sites of two tunnels which Musk and his Boring company are currently building.
One is in Las Vegas and the other in Southern California.
The Vegas project, called the Vegas Loop mega tunnel, is a two-tunnel 1-mile loop which connects the Convention Center with the Las Vegas Strip, at a cost of $52 million. The Boring Company is also constructing a four-mile tunnel to connect a rail station with Ontario International Airport in the Los Angeles area.
READ MORE: ‘Unique Opportunity To Create Signature Project’: Miami Mayor Francis Suarez Talks To Elon Musk About Tunnel Transit
However, the only completed tunnel is the company’s 1.14 mile, $10 million test tunnel in Hawthorne, California, just outside SpaceX headquarters. The single-tunnel, 1.1-mile loop cost $10 million.
Musk’s Boring Company aims to reduce congestion by building a network of underground tunnels.
It’s something South Florida leaders want to be a part of.
Musk claims rather than spending billions of dollars and decades of work, his company can produce tunnels in a matter of months at a small fraction of the cost.
Trantalis said in the newsletter, “The Boring Co. says the lower cost is another example of Musk thinking outside traditional norms, just as he reduced the costs of space flight with such innovations as reusable rockets. His tunneling technology could be a real game-changer for us regarding transportation and quality of life.”
Civil engineers say it’s tough to build tunnels in South Florida, which is largely on a foundation of limestone, which is sponge-like, allowing water to move through it easily. However, large diameter tunnels are possible in South Florida if proper planning and precautionary measures are taken, said Conrad Felice, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Florida.
Felice noted that engineers earlier this decade completed the 4,200-foot Port Miami Tunnel, which had a price tag of $668.5 million and took over five years to complete. That tunnel runs 120 feet below the surface.