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Elon Musk Says He's Had "Promising" Talks About Tunnel Idea With Mayor Garcetti

Raise your hand if you're building a tunnel. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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Earlier this year, Elon Musk announced that he'd solve L.A. traffic by building a tunnel beneath the city. Everyone said "Really? You can just do that?" and Musk basically said "Yes" and upped the ante saying that he'd make good on his promise in a month. Well, he did...sort of. He began digging a 30-foot wide, 50-foot long, and 15-foot deep "test trench" on SpaceX property. The tunnel was meant to connect the SpaceX parking lot to company facilities—the project was a sign of his seriousness, but a far cry from the underground Autobahn that people had been picturing in their heads.

Then, in May, Musk gave us a visual representation of the storm that's brewing inside his head. The video depicts a system in which cars can drive up to and settle on a kind of metal sled; that sled then descends under ground, and starts zipping through a subterranean network of roads, pitching the car forward at speeds over 120 mph.

Now, in the latest installment of the tunnel craze, Musk tweeted on Sunday to say that he's had "promising" talks with Mayor Eric Garcetti about the prospects of an underground roadway:

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As Musk notes in his tweet, the permitting process will be a tough slog (if getting the permits is even possible). This would involve a long process in which public hearings and environmental reviews would have to be conducted. For instance, Metro's plans to extend the Purple Line to Westwood was met with major obstacles when residents in Beverly Hills rebuffed the idea of building a tunnel beneath their neighborhood (they went as far as saying that ISIS could use the subway to bomb Beverly Hills High School). In 2012, the city of Beverly Hills and the Beverly Hills Unified School District sued the Federal Transit Administration—which is responsible for green-lighting Metro's plans—for allegedly OK-ing the project without producing a proper environmental review (in 2016, a judge ruled that the project should be allowed to move ahead).

Which is all to say that it'll be important for Musk to win the backing of the Mayor, among others. And so far it seems that Garcetti is hip to the idea. On Saturday, the Mayor made a quick mention of Musk's aspirations on ABC 7:

“Los Angeles is home to some of the world’s greatest innovators, and Mayor Garcetti believes that ingenuity and new ideas will play an important role in building our city’s future," Alex Comisar, the mayor's press secretary, wrote in an email to LAist. "The Mayor welcomes the discussion of how innovative technology can improve quality of life in L.A.” And indeed it seems like the Mayor has been on a tear when it comes to promoting slightly insane novel approaches to our future in public transit. He'd recently floated the idea of an aerial gondola to the Hollywood Sign, as well as a monorail.

[H/T: Curbed LA]