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1st tunnel completed for Las Vegas Convention Center’s people-mover

There was a breakthrough — literally — for The Boring Co.’s $52.5 million people-mover project Thursday.

The drill chewing through 4,475 feet of dirt and rock 40 feet underground reached the endpoint of the first of two tunnels that will link three stations from University Center Drive near the east end of the Las Vegas Convention Center’s South Hall to the under-construction West Hall on Convention Center Drive.

When completed, the people-mover system would eliminate a 1½-mile walk between those two points.

The system is expected to be completed by December, in time for use during January’s CES 2021.

“To be able to build almost a mile-long tunnel inside of three months and have that built pretty seamlessly is pretty remarkable,” said Steve Hill, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “And it’s only going to get faster from here. It’s a big day for Las Vegas.”

A video of the machine’s final push was released Friday by the LVCVA. Late Thursday afternoon, the machine broke through a concrete wall that had a black and purple #ONLYVEGAS banner on it. Water jetted from the drill and several large blocks of rock and concrete tumbled out of the hole ahead of the machine.

Once the first tunnel bore is complete, the drill will be removed piece by piece from the hole. It’ll then be transported back to the starting point where a second parallel tunnel will be drilled.

People-mover stations on the two ends of the line will be built above ground. A middle station, to be located underground near where the Convention Center’s North and Central halls converge, is expected to be built around scheduled conventions so that the parking lot on the surface won’t be disrupted.

“We don’t want to disrupt shows that need the parking lot if we don’t have to,” Hill said. “Ideally, it’s an 85-day schedule and that’s pretty darn fast to build an underground station. We have to move quickly and have to be on time with everything.”

Hill said when the underground station is built, the two tunnels would already be complete.

“So they’re going to have to dig a hole 43 feet underground, they’ll cut through the tunnels that are in place there and then build a station that is 35 feet tall and then about 170 feet long and 80 feet wide, so a pretty good-sized, quarter-acre station space. We’ll put a roof on it, put the material on it, then put the asphalt on top of that. You’re building a big box underneath the ground.”

Company officials haven’t elaborated on the size of the fleet of the electric vehicles that will use the tunnels, other than to say the largest vehicle would hold 16 people and would be on a Tesla chassis. No details on queuing and loading procedures or wait times for rides have been explained.

But Hill is optimistic that the system serving the Convention Center could eventually be extended into the rest of Las Vegas.

“This project has an even greater applicability into the resort corridor and into the city itself. It’s a remarkable new type of transportation, it’s something that is affordable and can literally be a congestion reliever and allow our guests throughout the city to experience everything Las Vegas has to offer in a convenient and fun way.”

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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