Elon Musk's The Boring Company has won the contract to build a transport link between Chicago and its main airport, O'Hare International Airport. The win is a huge boost to the experimental startup which has no proven construction record behind it.
The Boring Company beat several high profile companies for the rights to build the much-anticipated project. The engineering company responsible for a terminal at London’s Heathrow and JLC Infrastructure were among the big-name losers.
The Boring Company confirmed its win via Twitter, but the city is yet to make an official announcement, though sources close to the Mayor's office have verified the news. Musk tweeted: “We’re really excited to work with the Mayor and the City to bring this new high-speed public transportation system to Chicago!”
We’re really excited to work with the Mayor and the City to bring this new high-speed public transportation system to Chicago! https://t.co/cL1e0YfZSw— The Boring Company (@boringcompany) June 14, 2018
Chicago may be Boring's first completed project
The Boring Company has yet to complete a fully operational transport system but has indicated it is making good progress with its test tunnel in Los Angeles. “Elon Musk is looking for a place to prove his technology works, and Chicago is rolling out the red carpet for him,” said Joe Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University in Chicago.
The tender was unusual for a project so closely linked to a local government as no public funds will be made available. Eager bidders for the project needed to prove they had the ability to cover all construction costs themselves.
This clause significantly depleted the pool of candidates. Others have misgivings about the entire operation which has been slowed down due to excessive bureaucracy for some time. "I suspect it's going to evolve a few times before anything concrete gets done," said Hani Mahmassani, a professor of engineering at Northwestern University.
That said, with his other companies, Musk has "been able to pursue and fulfill visions that others say are too difficult," Mahmassani added. But winning the bid doesn’t guarantee Chicago will get a Boring Company transport system, the first stage will be a year-long negotiation process between Musk's team and the City of Chicago to develop the details of the project.
The project needs to improve on existing services
The aim of project is to connect downtown Chicago with O'Hare International, about 24 kilometers away which currently costs most passengers a $40 taxi ride. Final plans for the transit link will need to be approved by the city council. The tender called for proposals that would connect the two locations in less than twenty minutes with a service that would run every 15 minutes. The winning design also needed to ensure the cost of the transport would be less than a current taxi ride or ride-share trip.