Credit: Elon Musk/Twitter
Credit: Elon Musk/Twitter

Another of Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s visions has come to fruition, with the opening of the first high-speed underground tunnel made by Musk’s Boring Company now open for test drives.

Musk is pinning hopes that the success of the tunnel will offer a realistic alternative to the crushing traffic that plagues the state’s cities.

Musk unveiled the tunnel on Wednesday night at its entrance at the headquarters of his other company, SpaceX, but not before giving CBS presenter Gayle King a ride through the tunnel which runs from Hawthorne, California to a parking lot 1.8km away.

Riding in a Tesla electric car (of course) with specially designed retractable side wheels that allow it to become  a “rail-guided train”, Musk sits with King in a white-knuckled ride that he assures will be a lot smoother once some bumps in the track are ironed out.

Musk told King that so far, the Boring Company has tested it at speeds of 80 miles per hour (128km/hr)  – but has confirmed on Twitter that cars will be able to safely travel at speeds of over 150 miles per hour (241km/hr).

“At that speed, it will feel like teleporting within a city,” he says.

It will not only be Tesla cars that can use the tunnel says Musk, as the retractable wheels will be suitable for any autonomous electric vehicle.

King expressed concerns about the tunnel collapsing – after all, California lies on a faultline.

And no doubt others have also, leading Musk to point out, tunnels are often safer than surface structures because they move with the ground:

Next steps for the tunnel are to test it not only at higher speeds, but also with volume.

“Target is 4000 vehicles/hour at 155mph (250km/h),” says Musk.

Based on full 5-seater passenger cars that could mean high speed transport for 20,000 people an hour – and it could be even higher if buses were also used.

The cost? The full 1.8km tunnel came in at around $US10million ($A14million), says Musk, pointing to an Citylab article that discusses costs of similar projects such as New York’s Second Avenue subway – which for the same distance would have cost $US4.68billion (almost $A6.6billion).

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