The Boring Company’s tunnel-making, dirt-clearing drill reached the end of the line for the second time in three months Thursday, making a pathway for Elon Musk’s untested underground people-mover.
A second parallel tunnel was completed just after midnight Thursday morning when the specialized drill punched through a concrete wall bearing a welcoming message. A sign on the concrete wall said, “You can’t stop Vegas.”
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority distributed a video showing the drill hitting the wall. Two tall columns of concrete collapsed to a floor filled with water and mud when the drill hit.
The drill emerged near the southwest corner of the 1.4 million-square-foot West Hall convention center expansion, which will become the newest addition to the Las Vegas Convention Center.
The $930.3 million expansion was listed as 81 percent complete Tuesday by LVCVA President and CEO Steve Hill in a report to board directors.
The expansion and the transit system, known as the Convention Center Loop, will open in January for CES.
“This milestone not only helps usher in the future of transportation in Las Vegas, but it signals the destination’s ability to push through during trying times and continue to meet the evolving needs of our visitors,” Hill said.
Paving tunnel roadways next
Paving the roadways within the tunnels is the next stage of construction. The company indicated that paving already has begun on Tunnel 1 and paving on the second tunnel is expected to begin in the next few weeks.
The complete tunnel build-out consists of lights throughout the tunnel and the installation of electrical, communications and fire and life safety systems.
In the event of an emergency, the paved drive surfaces serve as the path of egress. Unlike typical subway systems, there are no touch hazards in the tunnel — such as electrified third rails — providing a safe path for pedestrians.
When it operates, using all-electric vehicles on Tesla auto chassis in self-driving modes, the system will be free to conventioneers. The LVCVA says there will be 62 vehicles when operations begin. It hasn’t been determined when the vehicles will be delivered, but they’re scheduled to be in Las Vegas in time to be tested before being placed into service.
It’s unclear what the vehicles will look like, but the company has indicated the maximum capacity per vehicle would be 16.
When demand is great, multiple vehicles can be platooned to run almost like a train.
The vehicles will move passengers from end to end in less than two minutes, and the tunnels are beneath the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Three stations are being built in conjunction with the $52.5 million project, two above ground and one underground.
The above-ground stations will be at the end points, near the West Hall and just east of the South Hall. The underground station is near the Convention Center’s main entrance and will be beneath the center’s Silver Parking Lot.
The transit system is controversial because it’s Musk’s first commercial project developed by The Boring Company, one of the entrepreneur’s tech operations. Musk also is a principal in car manufacturer Tesla and SpaceX, which makes and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. He also was one of the original designers of the Hyperloop high-speed transit system.
Some LVCVA board members opposed the Boring project initially, fearful that the company wouldn’t be able to deliver a critical component to the Convention Center’s expansion project.
Hill believes the transit system will draw curious visitors to try it, a factor that may be even more critical now with visitation to Southern Nevada expected to plummet in the months ahead because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hill told the LVCVA board Tuesday that he expects talks will begin in the next few weeks between Boring and other tourism leaders to consider expanding the Convention Center Loop to connect to other tunnels that would be drilled by Boring to create an underground transit system serving the resort corridor and McCarran International Airport.