Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » “A narrow, jagged death-tunnel”
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      About     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact Rich Miller
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
“A narrow, jagged death-tunnel”

Thursday, Dec 20, 2018 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Background is here if you need it. While there’s some NSFW language in here, Albert Burneko at a DeadSpin publication has a brutal take on Elon Musk’s “loop” idea that Chicago wants to run between downtown and O’Hare

Okay so wait, I think I’m explaining it wrong. Picture this! It’s, it’s, you see, it’s a subway, only instead of trains filled with many dozens or hundreds of people at a time, riding through a grid of large tunnels, in a grand choreographed underground ballet capable of moving tens or hundreds of thousands of riders per hour, it’s … Tesla-brand cars … with their owners and maybe a couple other people … driving at moderate speed … through narrow, bumpy tunnels with no emergency exits. […]

People invented subway trains like 150 years ago, man, you’re saying now. This guy just invented a comically slow-moving conveyor belt for his other company’s cars. Literally the only innovation here is that it’s a worse version of both driving and riding the subway, and only available to people who’ve bought one brand of car. Yes. True. Wait. No. It’s innovative! It’s a solution to the problem of traffic, because now, merely by purchasing a Tesla-brand autonomous electric vehicle and outfitting it with special retractable side-wheels, Tesla owners can bypass gridlock and choose instead to spend their time sitting in the insanely slow-moving line outside of this dumb tunnel, waiting for their turn to go through it, one car at a time.

This isn’t even a good idea for Tesla drivers, you’re saying now. Why would anyone want to make use of this dumb tunnel. We haven’t even really gotten into how even in the press demonstration, it was such an uncomfortable ride that the Washington Post reporter described, in an otherwise not particularly hostile article, as not “an experience you’d tolerate from a public subway service” and which the Los Angeles Times likened to “driving on a dirt road.” Or the danger the stupid aftermarket retractable sideways wheels could pose to other drivers and their ordinary cars if they malfunction. Or the fact that Tesla cars are infamously prone to bursting into flames, which makes them uniquely unsuited to being driven through narrow bumpy tunnels with no room for fire trucks or emergency exits. Or how the planned tunnels are so narrow that even opening a car door inside one looks like a dodgy proposition. Or how even just at the highest conceptual level this is an obviously dumb and pointless idea that even in the absolute best case—which it isn’t presently aiming for—would be redundant to and/or worse than existing rapid-transit rail systems that do not require their riders to own Tesla cars. You’re being a little bit of a jerk right now, to be honest. Why can’t you just get on board with innovation?

* Slate’s Henry Grabar

As hard as it is to imagine such a system in operation, it’s even harder to imagine the network of light-speed elevator shafts that would be required to lift and let down a vehicle every second. Or the ramps required to allow those vehicles to accelerate to join the flow of traffic … or the means of egress in case of an accident … or, or, or. Why are we still talking about this?

There is one arena in which to hold out hope, however: that Musk has made a substantial advance in tunnel technology. He has not fulfilled his promise to tunnel faster—the 6,000-foot tunnel took 18 months to dig, a distance that a state-of-the-art tunnel-boring machine could clear in eight.

But he may have done so at a bargain price: a measly $10 million, he says. But that doesn’t include research, development, or equipment, according to the Los Angeles Times, and it’s not clear if it includes land acquisition or labor. (Musk has been using SpaceX to fund the Boring Company, to the consternation of some of the former company’s investors, according to the Wall Street Journal.)

* My favorite tweet on this topic…


  1. - A Jack - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 2:27 pm:

    What is the solution if the Tesla owner forgets to charge up the car that morning and it dies right in the middle of the tunnel? It didn’t look like there was any room to move it to the side and let others pass. Do you just push the car nine miles to the exit? And what kind of gridlock would that cause if you are waiting for an out of shape person to push his car nine miles?

  2. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 2:28 pm:

    This feels like Ralphie from A Christmas Story when he realizes the truth about the Decoder Ring.

  3. - Huh? - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 2:28 pm:

    Loop - another rich boy’s toy to stroke his vanity.

  4. - lakeside - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 2:29 pm:

    Sure this is trash, but think about a few years from now when we’ll look back fondly on the time when the $400m Block 37 station simply did *nothing*, rather than *something worse* that cost us an extra billion or so.

  5. - BC - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 2:47 pm:

    Am I missing something, but aren’t two different concepts being conflated here? One being the concept that Musk previewed yesterday — the “Tesla in a tunnel” for drivers to avoid surface traffic. That idea seems wacky for all the reasons mentioned above.

    But the downtown-to-O’Hare loop concept is different. It’s a high-speed, multi-passagener, express “train” between two stops. That’s much more likely to work. The question that didn’t get addressed in any of the media coverage I saw, is whether or not Musk’s new tunneling technology can work as quickly and cheaply as he claims.

  6. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 3:09 pm:

    ===But the downtown-to-O’Hare loop concept is different===

    Nope. “Anyway, the skates have been canceled. The car is the skate”

    ===whether or not Musk’s new tunneling technology can work as quickly and cheaply as he claims. ===

    It’s in the post. His process is much slower and nobody knows what his real costs are.

  7. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 3:18 pm:

    Seems like in the free style hash-it-out “what are some of the potential problems we might face doing this project” meeting Musk and Company had too much ‘hash’ and too little critical thinking. Wizard of Oz and Flim-Flam man meld.

  8. - Lil Squeezy - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 3:26 pm:

    Tech bro drills poorly made tunnel in more than twice the amount of time that a tunnel drilling company takes. I am impressed.

  9. - Actual Red - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 3:35 pm:

    Elon Musk is a con artist. Paypal made money because it was an early entry into the field, but it is far from the best option out there today. Electric cars are a good idea that other people had before Musk, but Tesla has consistently failed to deliver the way musk claims it will. This new idea is all talk, no substance yet again. Why do people like this guy?

  10. - ArchPundit - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 3:45 pm:

    Meanwhile his idea for a large number of satellites providing broadband has stopped many state legislatures from investing in rural broadband and faces just as many hurdles. Stop listening to the doofus.

  11. - Blue Dog Dem - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 3:48 pm:

    Ohm my goodness. This project will meet some resistance. I wonder watt the solution will be.

  12. - dbk - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 3:59 pm:

    Hope some reporter gets explicit statements (in writing, quoted live) from all the mayoral candidates on what they plan to do about this.

    S/he who responds “Fund those major upgrades to the Blue Line” should get bonus % points.

    I watched Musk on “60 Minutes” a couple of weeks ago (interviewed by Leslie Stahl) and he was … different. Some would justify his behavior as “genius,” others would suggest he’s losing touch with reality. Or it could be both.

    In any case he and the Boring Co. aren’t in sufficiently good shape to complete such a public works mega-project.

  13. - Montrose - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 4:03 pm:

    So, will Rahm call it off with Elon or will he let that be an early win for the next mayor?

  14. - City Zen - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 4:04 pm:

    Years ago, I saw Jagged Death-Tunnel at The Vic when they opened up for Cannibal Corpse.

  15. - A Jack - Thursday, Dec 20, 18 @ 4:23 pm:

    Chicago does have an existing tunnel system that was used for moving coal and ash around the loop area. The tunnel system flooded in 1992 and the results were not good.

    This new tunnel would have to go under the Des Plaines river to link up Chicago to O’Hare and possibly under the Chicago River depending on where the entrance is located.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Pritzker says state has settled labor dispute at migrant tent city
* *** UPDATED x4 - Coverage roundup - Reporters received report before governor - Report finds high levels of mercury in soil - Report released to reporters *** After stonewalling governor’s office, city finally shares pollution report on migrant tent city
* Reader comments closed for the weekend
* Afternoon roundup
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Some campaign updates
* Citing 'delays' in Chicago's procurement process, Pritzker announces $2 million to feed asylum seekers
* Union says Pritzker office intervention at least temporarily prevented likely construction shutdown at migrant camp
* Today's quotable
* Not-for-profits at risk as state funding nears end
* Illinois Supreme Court again cites the plain language of a law to overturn lower court's ruling
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Live coverage
* Yesterday's stories

Visit our advertisers...



Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

December 2023
November 2023
October 2023
September 2023
August 2023
July 2023
June 2023
May 2023
April 2023
March 2023
February 2023
January 2023
December 2022
November 2022
October 2022
September 2022
August 2022
July 2022
June 2022
May 2022
April 2022
March 2022
February 2022
January 2022
December 2021
November 2021
October 2021
September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0

Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller