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/ Source: CNBC.com
By Contessa Brewer, CNBC
It might soon be Boring in Sin City.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is recommending that Elon Musk’s Boring Company design, construct and operate an underground people mover on its conference center campus.
The LVCVA is spending $1.4 Billion to expand and renovate 200 acres of conference space, and it needs a way to move people more efficiently over roughly two miles.
“We’ve been the top city for trade shows for 24 years in a row. We aim to keep that title. This kind of innovation is an attraction in itself… it helps our customers experience everything on our campus,” LVCA CEO Steven Hill said in an interview with CNBC.
The meeting and convention business is increasingly important for Las Vegas’s bottom line. Of the 43 million visitors the city had last year, 6.6 million of them come for meetings. And they come during the weekdays, driving demand in dining, entertainment and gaming. An efficient, high-speed people mover at the convention center might be just the start. Proposals call for an underground loop that connects all of the Las Vegas strip, McCarren International Airport, the new Raiders stadium and potentially even a route from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
“We hope to explore the opportunity to move this kind of technology into the entire city.” Hill said, when he mentions the unified interest and support he’s getting from property owners along the strip, Clark County and the Regional Transportation Commission. “We’ve long recognized that as Las Vegas continues to grow, we have some chip points in moving people. There’s not room on the surface really to add lanes on the road every place we need them, particularly up and down the strip and to the airport. So being underground is something that is very attractive. “
And the price is attractive as well. Sources tell CNBC, with a price tag of between $35 million and $55 million dollars, Boring came in at a fraction of the cost of its above-ground competitors. The company prides itself on significantly reducing the cost of tunneling, which can be as much as $1 billion dollars per mile, by shrinking tunnel diameters and increasing the speed of the tunnel boring machines. The Boring Company spent $10 million to roll out a mile-long test tunnel at its Hawthorne facilities in Los Angeles in December.
It’s also working on projects in Los Angeles, Chicago and Maryland. Despite fanfare and optimism that accompanied the announcements in those locales, the projects have been stymied by layers of bureaucracy, opposition from not-in-my-backyard opponents and concerns that mega-tunnels could take on the mega-price tag and mega-annoyance of massive projects like the Big Dig in Boston or the Second Avenue Subway in New York City.
So for Musk and The Boring Company, Nevada represents an opportunity to demonstrate what they can do in a way a test tunnel in Hawthorne can’t quite accomplish.
“People will be excited. They will ride it, and if they like it, we’ll probably get more interest,” Steve Davis, president of the Boring Company, said in an interview with CNBC.
Davis said right now the company fields between three to five inquiries per week from towns, cities and other regions interested in the Boring Company’s underground transportation system.
“There’s hope and interest on our part that if everyone is happy with it, expanding wherever the local community deems possible. We’re just trying to be useful,” Davis said of the Las Vegas project proposal.
The Boring Company’s proposed project isn’t the first time someone has built a mass transit system in Las Vegas. There’s currently an above-ground monorail that travels along much of the Strip. But the company that operates the monorail went into bankruptcy in part because of low ticket sales.
The LVCA’s backing of the proposal means the Boring Company’s first fully completed commercial project has the best chance of happening in Las Vegas. The LVCVA board only has to work with Clark County for approval.
“Nevada looks for a responsible way to say ‘yes.'” Hill said. “We think it offers a lot of opportunity. I think others see that as well. And we will put in that work to see if it’s the right choice for Las Vegas.”
The LVCVA board will hear the formal recommendation concerning The Boring Company’s proposal on March 12. If the board approves the proposal, the next step is negotiating design, construction and operational plans in a contract for final approval, likely in June. LVCVA wants to unveil its people mover when it opens its new, expanded and renovated facilities at the end of 2020.