Musk says O'Hare express line could open in 2021

Elon Musk co-founder and chief executive officer of Tesla speaks as Steve Davis the operations head of Boring Co. listens during a Boring event in Los Angeles California

Tech billionaire Elon Musk's Boring Company is getting the go-ahead to build a multibillion-dollar express transit system between downtown Chicago and O'Hare International Airport, city officials said.

Addressing Chicago's press, Elon Musk expressed his thanks at the city and Mayor Emanuel for placing his faith in the Boring Co. But Musk's tentative deal with Chicago suggests that his company may be making progress in its goal to reduce the price of tunnel digging while increasing the speed of the notoriously slow process.

Musk joined Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to formally announce that a Musk-owned enterprise, The Boring Company, was selected for the project and will fully fund it.

Each electric vehicle in the proposed tunnel system will carry eight to 16 people and travel at speeds of 125 to 150 miles per hour (200 to 240 kph), the company said on its website.

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"Bringing Chicago's economic engines closer together will keep the city on the cutting edge of progress, create thousands of good-paying jobs and strengthen our great city for future generations", Emanuel said in the news release.

The Chicago Transit Authority's Blue Line trains now provide transportation from stops across the city to the airport.

Musk has also received approval from Maryland to dig tunnels for a Loop system that would provide a transportation alternative to commuters in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, but work has not yet started on that project.

The Tribune reports that The Boring Company will shoulder all the costs of the project, which it estimates to be around $1 billion.

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Mayors back as far as Jane Byrne in the early 1980s have dreamed of a super-fast O'Hare connection that would beat the hour or more it can take to drive or take the Chicago Transit Authority's Blue Line to the airfield.

Musk's company is also working on tunnel networks in the Los Angeles area and Maryland.

Boring will now exclusively negotiate with Chicago on a final proposal including the exact route. Opponents say the exemption Boring seeks from a lengthy environmental review of the Los Angeles test tunnel violates state law forbidding such waivers for large-scope projects on a piecemeal basis. The city is asking it to "design, build, finance, operate and maintain" the system. Details have yet to be finalized, but it looks like the project will cost around $1 billion and the Boring Company will pay most of the construction fees in exchange for keeping revenue from ticket sales, advertising, and in-vehicle purchases. The Boring Company plans to charge fares below the [request for proposals] requirement that this premium service should cost less than current taxi and ride-share services. It hopes to lower the costs of tunneling in part by narrowing the diameter of tunnels for such high-speed projects. But the concept has made some headway in major USA cities.

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