Nevada Newsmakers

News - December 23, 2019 - by Ray Hagar

Elon Musk's Boring Company underground drill is currently chewing through dirt and rock under the massive Las Vegas Convention Center.

When the $52 million project is completed by 2021, the drill will have dug two mile-long tunnels under the convention center, where autonomous vehicles with Tesla chassis will shuttle people back and forth.

Yet the underground shuttle service for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority may only be the beginning of the underground tunnel technology in Las Vegas, said LVCVA president and CEO Steve Hill.

In an interview on Nevada Newsmakers, Hill said the underground technology may someday serve a much larger area in Las Vegas.

"We do think that over time, this just doesn't have to be just a convention center or just a (Las Vegas) Strip type of transportation system," Hill told host Sam Shad. "This can be a system that everybody in the valley can take advantage of."

Hill, who helped broker the deal that brought Musk's Tesla gigafactory to Northern Nevada when he was Gov. Brian Sandoval's economic development chief, believes in the leader of Tesla and the Boring Company. It is why he foresees Musk's underground transportation technology someday spreading through the Las Vegas Valley.

"Elon's companies are very innovative, always looking at the next best thing, the best practice," Hill said. "So they are working hard and having a lot of success, speeding up the tunneling process, which lowers the cost, looking at the autonomy of the vehicles, maximizing the ridership of the vehicles."

.Musk's people-mover concept is also less expensive that other options, Hill said. Boring officials have said their system of underground transportation will be three-to-four time less expensive than other systems, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Boring Company plans for the underground system were the best the LVCVA saw when they invited requests for proposal (RFP) from potential bidders.

"The Boring Company's technology and response really stood out," Hill said. "Not only did it have the highest capacity, it had the least disruption during the construction process and it was also substantially less expensive that the other options. So it was a pretty easy choice."

It was a choice with the future in mind even though the LVCVA project is the first application to the Boring underground drilling technology.

"We also see it as a real opportunity to solve some of the congestion problems in Las Vegas going forward," Hill said. "So it is helpful to start at the convention center, make sure that it works, work the kinks out and then look at the opportunity of moving into the city."

The Tesla vehicles that travel in the tunnels will carry about 16 passengers and travel around 35 mph, according to the Review-Journal.

Hill admires Musk, after working with him on the Tesla gigafactory deal in Northern Nevada.

"He's a brilliant guy who has done everything he has told Nevada he was going to do," Hill said. "The gigafactory has been a huge success. The original commitment of 6,000 jobs, $5 billion of investments have both been well exceeded and will continue to grow.

"He is doing things that nobody else in the world is doing," Hill said of Musk. "And I think it is really to Nevada's benefit, both in the Reno area and in Las Vegas, to be  a part of what he is doing and being part of the cutting edge with him."