Elon Musk's Los Angeles tunnel was 'a little bumpy,' Chicago alderman says. Not yet smooth sailing for O'Hare one either.

A Chicago alderman who was able to take a ride in a transportation tunnel built by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk said he still has “a lot of questions” about how such a tube could be built in Chicago.

Ald. Gilbert Villegas, 36th, chairman of the City Council’s Latino Caucus, was one of a group of aldermen and Chicago city officials who were in Los Angeles this week to take a ride through the tunnel, which runs just over a mile.

Villegas described the ride on Tuesday night as “a little bumpy” since Musk’s team had not yet smoothed out the surface of the tunnel. The top speed reached was about 34 mph, Villegas said, much slower than Musk’s promised future speed of 150 mph. Villegas said he believed the ride would have been twice as fast if the tunnel had been smooth.

A Tesla Model X car was used for the trip.

In June, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Musk announced plans for an express, high-speed, underground connection between downtown and O’Hare International Airport.

The mayor, who is not running for a third term, has not wavered on his support for the proposed tunnel despite skepticism from some engineering and transportation experts, who wonder how Musk's Boring Co. can dig a 17-mile tunnel and create passenger service in a few years for just $1 billion. Some candidates for mayor also have expressed doubts about the idea.

Villegas said his trip was comfortable, but he still has questions about how the Chicago project will be financed and how taxpayers will be protected.

“It looks OK, but there has to be a lot more questions answered before we can begin a type of project like that,” said Villegas. One concern is making sure the vibrations from digging the tunnel will not cause problems for people living nearby, he said.

Other aldermen on the trip included Aviation Committee Chair Matt O’Shea, 19th, and Budget Committee Chair Carrie Austin, 34th.

Ald. Michael Scott Jr., 24th, who was not able to make the trip to Los Angeles, agreed that there a lot is “up in the air” about the project.

“There are lots of things that need to come together before I think it can happen,” said Scott. He said one plus for the project is that it is supposed to be paid for by Musk, not taxpayers.


Twitter @marywizchicago


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