Elon Musk’s The Boring Company is willing to dig tunnels in one congested Florida city

Elon Musk – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by vasilis asvestas

These days, Tesla Inc. founder Elon Musk is seemingly all over the place. A jack of all trades and exchanging podium spots with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos as the wealthiest man on the planet, you’d think he’s done enough to warrant a break. Nope. And if there’s any uncertainty to his work ethic, check out this tweet he sent out when he found out he’d temporarily taken the top spot earlier this month. 

Courtesy: Elon Musk Twitter

Now, Musk is looking to take his talents to South Beach—well Miami, but close enough.

Florida is well known for its tireless traffic congestion. Miami, however, is in a league of its own. Currently ranked as the third most congested city for traffic in the U.S. by TomTom Traffic Index, there is clearly work to be had. While 2020 saw a significant drop off in overall traffic due to the pandemic and a work-from-home boom, 2021 may spike back to normal depending on how fast the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed and taken across the state.

Musk tweeted earlier this month that he had spoken with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis about the possibility of bringing one of his business’, The Boring Company, to Miami to undertake a tunnel-digging project.

“If Governor & Mayor want this done, we will do it,” Musk tweeted. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, a proponent of moving Miami to a “tech-valley”—if you will— was on board with the idea adding “[Miami] would love to have you.” 

Courtesy: Miami Mayor Francis Suarez Twitter

However, critics were quick to point out Florida’s sea-level and water table situation moving forward.  

Kurtis Gurley, a structural engineering professor at the University of Florida, gave her thoughts on the idea saying, “It doesn’t seem very smart, and it is certainly going to be expensive.”

Expensive indeed. While this project hasn’t been finalized and is likely years away from happening, if it even happens, has many obstacles in its crosshairs. For starters, the project has to get approval from the city; a budget needs to be allocated, planning needs to take place, sites need to be evaluated, etc. For scaling purposes, the underground Port of Miami Tunnel completed in 2012 and 2013, respectively, cost $1.1 billion. The twin-tube system measures roughly 12 football fields in length, 41 feet in diameter, and reaches an underwater depth of 120 feet below the surface, per the United States Department of Transportation Build America Bureau. 

While that project serves as motivation and the potential of executing such a task, it also surely brings up a costly undertaking that would require a lot of lobbying to get done.

South Florida’s foundation largely sits on a limestone deposit, a sponge-esque and porous rock formation that can pose tricky if mishandled. Fortunately, tunneling through the rock and underwater is common practice. If the tunnel were to be built, while rising sea levels would increase the pressure on the structure, accommodations can be made to relieve it of added duress, according to Michael Mooney, a professor of underground construction and tunneling at the Colorado School of Mines. 

Currently, The Boring Company has only completed one tunnel in Hawthorne, California, near SpaceX headquarters and runs 1.14 miles. The tunnel cost an estimated $10 million.

Only time will tell if the digging idea will come to fruition. And while Florida has other things to worry about regarding its roadways, the tunnel could prove to be an enticing project for the busy city. 

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