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Underground loop approved for Strip-downtown connection

Updated June 18, 2022 - 1:24 pm

The Las Vegas City Council on Wednesday approved plans for the Boring Company’s Vegas Loop to extend from the resort corridor into downtown Las Vegas.

The council unanimously approved the monorail agreement for the project, paving way for the underground transportation system featuring a fleet of Teslas to include five initial downtown stops.

The agreement, good for 50 years, will tie into the system that is planned for Clark County’s jurisdiction that include several Strip properties and Allegiant Stadium.

The Vegas Loop will be a 34-mile tunnel network with about 55 stations including Harry Reid International Airport and Allegiant Stadium. Around 5 miles of tunnels and at least five stations will be included in the downtown area.

The downtown stations include The Strat, Fremont Street Experience, the Slotzilla attraction, the Garage Mahal at Circa and the Plaza. Other stations could be added in the future, including in or near the Arts District.

Machines likely by ’23

Work can start on getting the permitting and other agreements secured for the planned stops in the downtown area.

Boring Co. President Steve Davis said he envisions tunneling for the project in downtown Las Vegas to start sometime in 2023.

“This is step two, and there are eight steps for us to be opening,” Davis said during Wednesday’s meeting. “There’s a long way to go and a lot of work to do. But if I were to guess on the spot, I would guess we’d have machines in (the ground) next calendar year.”

Other steps after the approval of the monorail agreement include approval of design development studies; approval of final design and construction plans and permits; construction; operational testing; securing certificate of operation; and starting full Vegas Loop service.

Davis said the system will be relatively cheap for riders, saying that a ride from the Fremont Street Experience downtown to Reid International — once that portion is operational — would cost about $12 and take eight or nine minutes.

“It’s not going to be $30, it’s not going to be $1, $12 is kind of where we are,” Davis said. “It’s compelling.”

Boring Company will collect all revenue from the system, with quarterly payments being made to the city based on a tiered system.

Clark County portion

Permitting for portions of the Vegas Loop in the resort corridor is in various phases. The Tropicana Loop on the south end of the Strip, including an Allegiant Stadium station, the Caesars Loop for Caesars Entertainment properties located along the central Strip area and an offshoot between the Westgate and the Las Vegas Convention Center are set to be the next parts to be constructed.

Each area can be built in separate phases and later be connected by tunnels. It allows for initial connectivity to occur in the resort corridor, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority CEO and President Steve Hill previously noted.

Hill said he expects some of those phases to be operational sometime in 2023.

A portion already dug from the Convention Center and Resorts World is expected to be operational this year.

Depending on the size and structure of a station, the cost to build one ranges between $1.5 million and $20 million. Each property is responsible for paying for costs tied to that station, while the Boring Company is responsible for the construction and operation of the tunnel system.

If the determination is made to build a civic station, such as in the Arts District, there is a mechanism included in the city’s agreement to generate additional funding to go toward building those stops.

Good timing

The Boring Company’s loop system is largely untested, with the Convention Center Loop being the only fully operational system of its kind. Since it was opened to conventioneers, it has served over 700,000 riders.

Councilwoman Victoria Seaman said that despite the small data pool for the system, now is the time to get this project underway.

“I have been a fan of this technology since I toured the tunnels when they were being built (at the Convention Center), and I think with the growth of Las Vegas this is going to be … a game changer,” Seaman said. “I think sometimes you have to take a risk to be successful. We need to move with the technology and it will be cleaner for the environment. My only question is how soon are we going to have this in my ward?”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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