Fort Lauderdale is fascinated by utilizing a tunnel to ease visitors on certainly one of its busiest roads, and Elon Musk desires to construct it. This week, Ford Lauderdale’s metropolis authorities accepted a proposal from Musk’s city tunnel-digging outfit, the Boring Firm, to carve out an underground passageway that can ship individuals from downtown to the seashore through self-driving Teslas.
“These automobiles would go from downtown Fort Lauderdale to the seashore and again with a cease alongside Las Olas, which is our essential restaurant-business boulevard,” Ben Sorensen, Fort Lauderdale’s metropolis commissioner, instructed Recode. Now that the proposal has been accepted, different companies have 45 days to submit their very own concepts for a tunnel.
Fort Lauderdale formally accepted tonight a proposal from @elonmusk‘s @boringcompany to construct an underground transit system between downtown and the seashore. Different companies have 45 days to submit competing proposals. This may very well be a really progressive approach to cut back visitors congestion. pic.twitter.com/R7Bh2NPVnl
— Mayor Dean J. Trantalis (@DeanTrantalis) July 7, 2021
Fort Lauderdale is simply the most recent place the place native authorities officers have explored the concept of underground visitors tunnels crammed with Teslas. However as different cities have struggled to get their Boring Firm tunnels off (or reasonably, beneath) the bottom, the beginnings of a plan to construct this infrastructure in Fort Lauderdale is already elevating issues that the Boring Firm’s previous issues may repeat themselves — to not point out the added problem of overcoming Florida’s rising sea ranges.
Regardless, Fort Lauderdale and the Boring Firm are assured within the tunnel plan, which has been percolating because the finish of final 12 months, Sorensen stated. Authorities officers have already met with engineers, visited the Boring Firm’s loop in Las Vegas, and even requested state help for the venture’s growth. On the similar time, the mayor has grow to be one thing of an Elon fan, praising Musk and the Boring firm in his newsletter.
Issues that the venture is ill-advised cropped up quickly after it was introduced. Some worry that the tunnel may be a flood threat, given town’s proximity to the ocean and rising sea ranges spurred by local weather change. One other fear is that the Boring Firm has promised decrease prices and quicker building occasions, regardless of engineering and tunnel trade consultants saying the agency doesn’t supply any notably novel manner of constructing tunnels. Others have advised that larger funding into public transportation may be a greater answer to town’s visitors congestion downside.
“It’s price investigating whether or not that’s possible from a structural and engineering perspective,” Lily Elefteriadou, the director of the College of Florida’s Transportation Institute, instructed Recode. “From a transportation techniques perspective, it is sensible to look into options to get individuals out of personal automobiles and see if which may work.”
Tunnels are costly, Elefteriadou defined, and a devoted lane or a rail line would possibly do the trick, relying on the land, funding obtainable, and anticipated ridership.
If the tunnel plan does undergo, consultants instructed Recode that water points, together with these exacerbated by local weather change, will affect what sorts of options engineers might want to contemplate.
“The designers will take a look at what are all the hundreds and conditions that would conceivably exist over that 100- to 150-year time interval,” stated Michael Mooney, a professor on the Colorado Faculty of Mines who focuses on underground building and tunnels. “They’ll take a look at rising sea degree, they’ll take a look at what the design-hurricane occasion shall be, after which they’ll design accordingly.”
Water issues may affect how excessive a tunnel’s two ends are constructed, and the specifics of the tunnel’s water-pumping system, Mooney added.
In fact, water is just not unfamiliar territory to tunnel engineers, and engineers have waterproofed tunnels prior to now. Take into account a close-by instance: the just lately constructed Port of Miami Tunnel, an undersea tunnel town constructed to attach two islands off the mainland. This venture additionally needed to bear in mind the dangers of storm surge and different water challenges. With the Fort Lauderdale tunnel, engineers must contemplate the realm’s soil circumstances, together with sandy soil and limestone, based on College of Central Florida civil engineering professor Luis Arboleda Monsalve.
“Now we have finished all types of tunnels in very, very tough floor,” Monsalve stated.
However there are nonetheless potential unknowns. “Now we have a greater thought of what can occur within the subsequent 30 years. In 100 years, there are numerous extra uncertainties,” Shimon Wdowinski, an earth and atmosphere professor at Florida Worldwide College, instructed Recode. “As all people is aware of, sea degree is rising.”
Fort Lauderdale is just not the one metropolis in Florida whose native authorities is being wooed by Musk’s firm. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has already spoken with Musk, and the mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, desires a highway tunnel in his metropolis too.
Vehicles & vehicles caught in visitors generate megatons of poisonous gases & particulate, however @boringcompany highway tunnels beneath Miami would remedy visitors & be an instance to the world.
Spoke with @RonDeSantisFL about tunnels final week. If Governor & Mayor need this finished, we are going to do it.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 18, 2021
However there’s nonetheless cause to be skeptical. A number of of the Boring Firm’s tunnel proposals by no means took off. One plan to construct a tunnel connecting Chicago’s downtown Loop and its O’Hare Airport didn’t pan out, and the corporate additionally appears to have stalled its plans to construct a loop tunnel between DC and Baltimore. In the meantime, the tunnels the Boring Firm has constructed have but to satisfy the agency’s unique expectations, and the corporate’s check tunnel in Los Angeles was a far cry from the futuristic designs the corporate originally proposed.
Sorensen, the Fort Lauderdale metropolis commissioner, instructed Recode that town hoped to have the ability to transport 4,000 individuals on the loop and have automobiles run totally autonomously. However within the Las Vegas tunnel, self-driving automobiles nonetheless haven’t arrived (the Teslas are pushed by people), and, attributable to fireplace rules, the system continues to be struggling to spice up the loop’s capability to 4,000.
Fort Lauderdale continues to be ready to see if some other firms will supply their very own proposals to construct this tunnel, although none have expressed curiosity but. In any other case, it appears as if town plans to maneuver ahead, regardless of the issues.
“It must be taken into consideration that for 30 years, it could work, however possibly afterward not,” Wdowinski stated. “That is as much as the decision-maker to determine.”