A Tesla car in a Boring tunnel
Source: Boring Company

Tesla and Boring Company CEO Elon Musk has responded to a casual query on social media channel Twitter from NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham about the cost to build a tunnel under the Blue Mountains.

Buckingham proposed the idea to Musk on Tuesday night (Australian time), with the idea that Sydney’s traffic problems could in part be alleviated by opening up a high speed tunnel to allow easier access west of the Blue Mountains.

The electric car entrepreneur created his Boring Company to build tunnels in another congested city – Los Angeles – with the aim of helping to solve crippling traffic problems.

Sydney was named the most congested city in Australia in a report released by the Australian Automobile Association in October 2018, with average speeds of 59.2km/hr during morning and afternoon peaks on major roads.

While real estate values for the NSW state capital are declining they are still well above the nation’s average, and home ownership for many working in the city means moving westward is the only affordable option.

“I’m a lawmaker in Sydney, which is choking with traffic. How much to build a 50km tunnel through the Blue Mountains and open up the west of our State?” Buckingham asked Musk, also tagging tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes.

Musk replied the following night (our time), saying it would cost $US15million ($A20 million) per kilometre plus $US50 million ($A70 million) per station.

On other words, about $A1.1 billion.

Buckingham replied, “Thanks mate. Sounds like a bargain. Could be a game changer to go under the Blue Mountains with a modern link between Sydney and the west. I’ll raise it with the Premier other colleagues, the community, and get back to you.”

Cannon-Brookes, who spearheaded the Tesla big battery in South Australia with a similar Twitter conversation with Musk in 2017, also chimed in: “Sounds like a bargain for Sydney,” he said.

While $1 billion may sounds like a lot, take a minute to reflect on the fact that the state government has previously priced underground tunnels at $A1 billion per kilometre.

The potential route for the tunnel, Buckingham posits, would be a straight line from Penrith to Lithgow.

Penrith to Lithgow
Source: Jeremy Buckigham/Twitter

Drivers would not actually drive through the tunnel – Boring tunnels use a track system which guides the vehicle at high speed, as was demonstrated late last year when the first Boring tunnel opened in Los Angeles for testing.

Musk has said that the tunnel is capable of speed of up to 150mph (240km/hr) meaning the trip from Penrith to Lithgow could be reduced from around 1.5 hours (longer in peak hour) down to as little as 12 minutes.

Time will tell whether or not this becomes an actual plan of course, but for some at least it seems the potential could be incredible.

“This would change Sydney forever and bring unlimited economic prosperity to the west. Would solve the housing crisis. Enable growth of manufacturing. Allow for us to cope with the influx of migrants even increase intake,” said Twitter follower Gavin King.

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