Elon Musk’s Boring Co. Wins O’Hare High-Speed Train Bid

Elon Musk’s Boring Co. has won the bid to build a multi-billion-dollar high-speed express train to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.

O’Hare’s $8.5 billion modernization 

Start date: Heavy construction starts late 2019

Completion target: By 2026, the Terminal Area Plan (TAP) will completely redevelop O’Hare’s existing terminals, with expanded gates and facilities at Terminal 5, the redevelopment of Terminal 2 into a new fully integrated O’Hare Global Terminal to serve international and domestic passengers, and renovations and expanded concourses to Terminals 1 and 3.

Goal: To expand O’Hare’s facilities and create 25 percent more gate capacity

Traffic boost: O’Hare is expected to serve nearly 100 million passengers by 2026, up from nearly 80 million served today.

More jobs: In addition to construction jobs, projected 60,000 additional annual jobs in Cook County once the TAP is complete.

For an 18-month old company that is working with futuristic ideas and lacks construction experience, winning the bid at O’Hare gives it a much-needed boost as it tries to land projects underway in Los Angeles and Washington.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Boring Co. would build and operate an “express service to transport people to O’Hare Airport from downtown in 12 minutes on electric vehicles in underground tunnels.”

There would be no public subsidy to help pay for it, Emanuel added. The project would be 100 percent privately funded.

The company beat out a consortium that included Mott MacDonald, the civil engineering firm that designed a terminal at London’s Heathrow Airport, and JLC Infrastructure, an infrastructure fund backed by former basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Boring Co. confirmed the agreement on Twitter after Bloomberg first reported the deal Thursday, saying, “We’re really excited to work with the Mayor and the City to bring this new high-speed public transportation system to Chicago!”

Currently, some 20,000 air travelers move between the airport and Chicago’s central business district every day, according to the Chicago Infrastructure Trust. The agency adds that the figure is predicted to reach to at least 35,000 daily air passengers in 2045.

A conceptual look at the Chicago Express Loop, which will run between O’Hare International Airport and Block 37 in downtown Chicago. The Boring Co.

While details of the Chicago Express Loop aren’t yet available, the plan appears to resemble one that Musk has put forth for Los Angeles, where an 11-mile tunnel could shoot passengers between the city’s downtown and the Los Angeles International Airport in around eight minutes.

In Los Angeles, Boring Co. proposed building a wider network of tunneled transit, one that incorporates Sherman Oaks to the north and the Long Beach Airport to the southeast of downtown L.A.

The company released a video rendering of that concept.

Winning the nod means the city of Chicago will negotiate exclusively with Boring for one year over details of the project. A final go-ahead requires approval from the city council.

In its request for proposals, the city set a goal of connecting downtown with the airport in 20 minutes or less, with service every 15 minutes for the majority of the day. It also requested that fares be below the current rates for taxis and ride-share trips.

Currently, Chicagoans can ride to the airport for $5 on a Chicago Transit Authority train, taking about 40 minutes.

The Chicago Express Loop is a spin-off of the ambitious, $8.5 billion O’Hare renovation announced recently.

O’Hare Expansion

Called O’Hare 21, the plan gives the airport a new face, including 3 new concourses, a new international terminal, new hotel and new parking structure.  Once the project is completed by 2026, it will create 25 percent more gate capacity.

O’Hare is expected to serve nearly 100 million passengers by 2026, up from nearly 80 million served today.

Bloomberg and news reports contributed to this article.

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