The Boring Company, Elon Musk’s project to build underground highways to ease traffic congestion, received approval Wednesday to expand its “Vegas Loop,” an underground tunnel system under Las Vegas that transports passengers via Tesla vehicles.
The expansion, approved by the Clark County, Nevada commissioners, will expand the network by 25 miles, allowing for 18 new stations that extend the tunnel network from the Las Vegas Strip corridor.
TechCrunch recently reported on the proposed expansion, which would increase the underground transportation system to 65 miles of tunnels under Sin City, designed to help people reach more casinos, shopping areas, the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus, and residential areas.
The system was originally planned to contain 18 miles of tunnels with 51 stations. The current footprint of the Vegas Loop is approximately 2.2 miles (3.5 km) and includes five stops, including four around the Las Vegas Convention Center and Resorts World. Westgate and Encore are currently under construction. The company said it had just passed 1 million passengers in total and peaked at more than 32,000 passengers in one day.
The committee approved the updated plan 6 to 1 after TBC attorney Stephanie Allen confirmed that the company, not the taxpayer, would fully fund the project. Last year, TBC raised $675 million to scale Loop projects like this one.
Commissioner Marilyn Kirkpatrick was the only one to vote against, citing concerns that the long-term transportation system plan does not account for resort and casino employees who must travel to the city for work.
“I hope there are long-term conversations about what that looks like so we can make sure people have access to it; not just the tourists,” Kirkpatrick said. “Because we have an equal number of employees who have to make this journey and it’s getting harder and harder for them to get there. I’ve been getting a lot of calls from my district about how long it takes to get there because of construction.
Allen responded that TBC had plans to expand into residential areas in the north, west, and east of the strip.
Kirkpatrick also expressed concern about the amount of infrastructure being built around the airport, and wanted to ensure TBC cooperated with the Federal Aviation Commission.
Some of the newly planned stations will be located on Las Vegas Boulevard near the airport, as well as in Chinatown, at UNLV, Town Square Las Vegas and Harmon Square. A sample trip between the airport and the Las Vegas Convention Center, a 4.9-mile trip, could take five minutes and cost $10, according to Allen.
Around the same time TBC last raised money, Musk tweeted that the company would still try to use the tunnels for the largely theoretical hyperloop technology, the idea that a transportation system could fly passengers and cargo in pods through low-pressure tubes at speeds of more than 600 miles per hour. While the company said last year it would begin “full-scale” hyperloop testing, there’s no indication that TBC has made any progress with this technology, nor will it be implemented in the Vegas Loop.