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'The Boring Company' Could Change Infrastructure Investment Forever

Posted January 26, 2017 11:27 AM by HUSH

Have you played Cards Against Humanity? If not, time to crawl out from under your rock. The game is an adult version of Apples to Apples. It is best played with a handful of alcoholic drinks and none of your family around. I bring it up because the game’s publisher, Cards Against Humanity LLC, has an annual lampoon for its fans.

(Wanna play? You can download the game for free and print it out.)

In 2013, CAH had an anti-Black Friday sale, where they increased the price on that day (and actually sold more than usual). In 2014, they sold a game called Bull$#!7, which was a box filled with nothing more than the game’s eponymous name. 2015—they sold more than $71,000 of literally nothing (though much of it went to charity). In 2016, they streamed the Holiday Hole online. All $100,000+ donated went toward digging a big hole in the ground for no reason at all.

It’s relevant because at face value, that is what tech tycoon Elon Musk plans to do beginning in February. Last December, Musk was stuck in Los Angeles traffic before announcing on Twitter his idea to build a big tunnel underneath LA so that through-traffic isn’t delayed by the overcrowded LA freeway. At first, it seemed like his new idea was a joke; he had the company name and slogan all teed-up.

But he ended the morning with a tweet that his intentions were genuine. This week, he announced on Twitter that The Boring Company was springing to life, and that it would begin boring near SpaceX headquarters beginning next month. Initially, he plans to build a roadway between SpaceX and the nearest airport, LAX. LAX lacks rail linkages, so all airport arrivals occur by automobile.

Such a tunnel would reduce the typical drive time by only about 10 minutes, but if it bypasses major LA gridlock, the time savings could be more substantial. TechCrunch notes that Musk regularly flies between SpaceX HQ in LA and Tesla HQ in Silicon Valley, near San Francisco. This is also made possible by scales of economy in boring machines.

At first, it seems like a billionaire’s pet project so that he can get home a little quicker. Yet the repercussions could be greater. It can be the first proof of a concept for underground LA highway plans that have long been proposed, but never come to fruition. It will also be a litmus test for private infrastructure investment.

This article from Kellogg Insight, a publication of Northwestern University, notes several potential advantages, including larger initial capital for infrastructure projects, better project management, and the likelihood that a private company would build a better highway, as they’ll be responsible for maintaining it. (Compared to traditional highways built by consortiums and then handed over to DoTs.)

Of course, there are drawbacks—namely, there needs to be a profit somewhere. It could be tolls. It could be that a city or state government pays rent on the highway. Perhaps the company has exclusive development rights on land adjacent to the highway. Many state governments forbid private infrastructure projects, and others have no experience with them. Also, the potential for corruption and cronyism remains quite high.

Yet, in an era with a trillion-dollar infrastructure budget shortfall, something needs to change. And Musk’s boring tunnel may not be such a joke after all.

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#1

Re: 'The Boring Company' Could Change Infrastructure Investment Forever

01/26/2017 12:16 PM

No interest in this.

Now, if he built a personal flying car I could buy, that would get my attention.

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#3
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Re: 'The Boring Company' Could Change Infrastructure Investment Forever

01/26/2017 5:22 PM

No interest in this.

Agreed, boring.

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#9
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Re: 'The Boring Company' Could Change Infrastructure Investment Forever

01/30/2017 2:27 PM

But not so boring if they discover trolls under LA. Have you ever gone over a troll bridge?

Although boring, drilling, rodding, no matter what they call it where you are from, you know who the recipients of the action are.

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#4
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Re: 'The Boring Company' Could Change Infrastructure Investment Forever

01/26/2017 9:48 PM

I'm not sure that would fly either.

Think about it. Roads concentrate all the idiots into an area that allows them all to be seen by their potential victims.

I can tell you from experience that an aircraft coming at you from anywhere but "dead" ahead is impossible (almost) to spot. One coming directly at you at a closing speed of 200+ knots is no easier to see until just before impact. You can't "look down the road" because there is none.

General aviation relies on discipline, vigilance and communication not possible if you're drinking coffee, eating, texting, talking or emailing your friend as is typical of today's commute.

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#10
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Re: 'The Boring Company' Could Change Infrastructure Investment Forever

01/30/2017 2:30 PM

LA is just a bad accident that has already happened, and is about to get worse on any given day.

Yet it keeps drawing them in, like flies on "honey".

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#2

Re: 'The Boring Company' Could Change Infrastructure Investment Forever

01/26/2017 3:34 PM

Trapped underground in an earthquake? Not for me....

Hard enough trying to survive on the surface.....

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#5

Re: 'The Boring Company' Could Change Infrastructure Investment Forever

01/27/2017 3:06 PM

Fault map of Los Angles county

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#11
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Re: 'The Boring Company' Could Change Infrastructure Investment Forever

01/30/2017 2:31 PM

Yeah, kind of goes with the pipeline map of LA county also.

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#6

Re: 'The Boring Company' Could Change Infrastructure Investment Forever

01/27/2017 3:18 PM

Being in construction in Los Angeles for over 30 years, I can tell you that the geology of the area changes every few miles, or in a few hundred feet, depending on your direction. You could be tunneling through solid granite, sand, water, or, if lucky, get to meet the La Brea Tar Pits up close... A friend's company built many of the large underground garages beneath the high rises on Wilshire Blvd. The geological and hydrological problems related to these projects were amazing, to say the least.

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#7
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Re: 'The Boring Company' Could Change Infrastructure Investment Forever

01/27/2017 5:48 PM

I'd say Elon's boring endeavor may prove most exciting.

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#8
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Re: 'The Boring Company' Could Change Infrastructure Investment Forever

01/28/2017 12:23 AM

If nothing else, he has found a P.T. Barnum style of promotion, , incorporating a slew of engineers, and has found a way to tap into the financial pockets of the people. I may not approve of the man, in many ways, but I must say there are few like him with foresight for his projects, and the ability to connect with the people in Govt and private to keep these projects going. If funding by the Govt.were pulled, or prime , no-bid contracts with said Govt., were pulled, who knows? But he has been able to keep the engine ahead of the train, the caboose in it's place, and has enough successes to provide him with future funding , which is not easy in this type of business...

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