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Las Vegas Gives Green Light for Plan to Build Elon Musk's Underground Loop


Las Vegas could become the first city with a next-generation transportation system from the Boring Co., and Chief Executive Elon Musk thinks it can be up and running by the end of the year.

On Tuesday, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board of directors approved a recommendation to select Musk’s Boring Co. to design, build and operate a high-speed, underground people-mover connecting the city’s sprawling convention center. In the future, the system could connect to downtown, the Strip and McCarran International Airport, according to a statement.

Once a formal plan is developed in the coming months, the same board will vote on the final contract, likely by June. But Musk wasted no time in setting a target date Tuesday, tweeting: “Looking forward to building a Boring Company tunnel in Vegas. Assuming to be operational by end of year!” .

That may be a big assumption. Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla Inc.TSLA, -2.60%  , has been known to underestimate production timelines, and it is unclear how feasible it is for an underground transit system to be built in less than a year.

One thing in Musk’s favor is the fact that the convention authority owns most of the land the project will be built on, significantly reducing the amount of regulatory red tape.

Las Vegas is in the middle of expanding its convention center, which will cover 200 acres — approximately a two-mile walk — when it’s scheduled to be completed in January 2021, just in time for CES.

The Boring Co.’s proposed system would run high-speed autonomous electric vehicles through express tunnels connecting the convention center’s main halls, according to the convention authority, with a capacity to carry 11,000 passengers an hour.A map of potential Boring Co. loop stations connecting the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The estimated cost of the system is $35 million to $55 million, depending on the route and number of stations. Even for a short line, that’s still significantly cheaper than the cost of building a traditional subway. Funding for the project is expected to come from hotel-room taxes that go to the convention authority’s general fund.

Musk and the Boring Co. have touted their tunnels in a number of U.S. cities. Los Angeles has a working test tunnel and the Boring Co. plans to build a people-mover to Dodger Stadium, though a planned tunnel on the city’s west side was dropped after community opposition. The company also has plans to design high-speed underground transit in Chicago and the East Coast.