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Elon Musk's Bold Las Vegas Strip Project Inches Closer

By Daniel Kline

Las Vegas has always been a city where the impossible happens. When you walk down the famed Las Vegas Strip you see countless things that would count as wonders of the world.

You can walk by an Egyptian-style pyramid at MGM Resorts International's (MGM Get MGM Resorts International Report Luxor, then not very far away past a replica of the Statue of Liberty at which is just a short walk from a copy of the Eiffel Tower at Caesars  (CZR Get Caesars Entertainment Inc Report Paris Las Vegas.

Sin City has first-of-its-kind experiences and world-class entertainment in a quantity that few, if any, cities can equal. Las Vegas has trained people to expect the impossible, but it has also conditioned them to wait for it.

Las Vegas, like a Disney theme park, means crowds and slow going getting between wherever you are and wherever you want to go. The Strip becomes gridlocked during busier times and many parts of Las Vegas Boulevard have become challenging for pedestrians.

You might hope to walk half a mile between casinos only to learn that you have to traverse escalators or elevators to make what should be a simple trip. Las Vegas may be a city of wonders, but it's also a city of traffic and crowds that was never engineered to handle them.

Tesla CEO (TSLA Get Tesla Inc Report Elon Musk wants to change that and his idea for doing it -- which once seemed like a pretty silly stunt -- has moved closer to becoming a game-changing reality.

Image source: Daniel Kline/TheStreet

Musk Wants to Build an Underground Transportation System in Las Vegas

Musk's Boring Company was created to revolutionize building tunnels.

"The Boring Company creates safe, fast-to-dig, and low-cost transportation, utility, and freight tunnels," according to its website.

It's a simple mission designed to solve a problem -- traffic -- which plagues many of the world's cities. Musk has essentially taken an ages-old idea, digging tunnels to build subways or underground transportation, and modernized it, making it cheaper and faster.

"To solve the problem of soul-destroying traffic, roads must go 3D, which means either flying cars or tunnels are needed. Unlike flying cars, tunnels are weatherproof, out of sight, and won't fall on your head," the company shared. "Tunnels minimize usage of valuable surface land and do not conflict with existing transportation systems. A large network of tunnels can alleviate congestion in any city; no matter how large a city grows, more levels of tunnels can be added."

It's a bold idea that Musk's Boring Company has been slowly (and somewhat quietly for the often outspoken billionaire) been building under Las Vegas. The first proof of concept for the project linked two sections of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC).

Passengers got into a Tesla to ride a little over a mile between the two areas. It was a problem that easily could have been solved with a moving walkway (you can also just walk) but it's the tip of the iceberg for what Musk plans under Las Vegas.

Now, the entire iceberg appears headed for a 2023 debut.

What Boring Co. Las Vegas Looks Like    

Musk's ambitious plans will eventually include 18 miles of tunnels and 51 planned stations with routes going throughout the resort corridor, to Allegiant Stadium, and to Harry Reid International Airport. Those plans appear to be on track, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

LVCC CEO Steve Hill told the paper that the timelines does depend on the permitting process, but that he expects it to move "fairly quickly."   

“This is starting to be a repetitive process,” Hill told the Review-Journal. “ I mean the design of the tunnels isn’t changing and the design of the system isn’t changing. So, the building department has had an opportunity to learn the system, learn the construction methods, and learn how it works.”

The tunnel system will not open all at once, but stages are expected to begin operations in 2023.

“We’ll build phases that are separate to start and then tie them in and subsequent phases,” Hill told the Review-Journal. “The (Allegiant) stadium to the Tropicana area will be one phase. The Caesars Loop will be one phase and the Resorts World and Westgate connecting to the convention center will be one phase. Then there will be phases that follow that connect those connections together.”

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