Is Elon Musk’s High Speed Underground Tram In Chicago Moving Forward?

Last year, outgoing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel held a press conference with transportation and tech entrepreneur, Elon Musk, regarding a high speed, underground tram system that would cart passengers out to O’Hare airport. The tram was touted to take about twelve (12) minutes and would cost approximately $25 for a one way trip. It was stated that Musk’s boring technology would dig the necessary pathway in between the downtown loop and the airport. The goal of this new transportation system was to help ease the gridlock on I-90/94 and free up space on the always packed Chicago blue line. Also, it would provide an opportunity for commuters to avoid the often hour long automobile commute or forty-five (45) minute train ride. Even more enticing was that Musk told the press that his boring company would be shelling out the 1 billion dollars in necessary construction costs.

A lot has changed in Chicago since September 2018. Rahm Emanuel decided not to run for a third term as mayor and there is now a runoff election for his spot set for April between Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle.

News outlets have reported within the past month that neither mayoral candidate are very excited about this project. Lightfoot doesn’t include the Musk tunnel in her transportation plan, and Preckwinkle said at a candidate’s forum that the tunnel was “definitely something I would put on pause.” Both have cited the need to expand and improve the CTA red line and Metra train systems on the south side.

This was and is an incredibly innovative idea. Obviously we don’t know all the details of financing, but if Musk and his company are paying for the entire construction, and the city splits a portion of the revenue, I do not see how the city does not move forward with this project. The added benefit of freeing up traffic above ground and the job creation seems to make this a no-brainer for the incoming mayor. This is assuming the technology would actually work in Chicago and the city and county are not putting up any of the money. If so, I would like to the see the incoming mayor reconsider their position(s) on this matter.

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