Can Loop ever become reality?

Some are skeptical such a project will be built. While where is no official timeline for the project or an estimated cost, the Tribune cited a source who estimated price as less than $1 billion. The Boring Company must pay for a new station at O’Hare and renovate a unopened transit “superstation” at Block 37, part of a shopping center near City Hall that was a vestige of an abandoned high-speed rail project. Several above-ground stations in the city will also needed, although the city will provide rights for underground construction. To recoup its costs, Boring is expected to keep all fares, advertising and in-vehicle sales.       

The Boring Company, which only has 14 employees listed on LinkedIn, is private and has raised just $112.5 million, according to the private equity research firm PitchBook. The massive engineering feat would also be coupled with an unprecedented reduction in costs for such a transit project. The city’s last attempt at high-speed rail led to spending $400 million on a subway “superstation” that was ultimately abandoned.

Also, it’s not clear if the benefits of the airport connection would justify the costs. The existing above-ground Blue Line trains charge riders about $5 for a 40-45 minute ride. The Loop’s 18-mile route supposedly would cost passengers $20 to $25 per trip.

If The Boring Company succeeds at its stated goal of bringing down the cost of underground tunneling to one-tenth of what it is today, the Chicago project will likely be just the beginning of a new wave of construction. Last year, Gregory Hauser, a civil engineer at Dragados who recently managed the replacement of Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct—the largest underground highway project in the US—said what The Boring Company attempting is on par with the challenge faced by SpaceX.

“Nothing is impossible, but all of it is very difficult,” he said, noting that today’s technologies are not up to the job. After 40 years of incremental innovation in transportation, most of it from outside the US, “I’m all for it,” he said. “The industry needs new thinking and technology.”

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