Excavation is complete on the second of two vehicular tunnels that make up Elon Musk’s innovative underground transportation system beneath the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) campus.
The Boring Company's boring machine broke through the concrete wall near the 1.4 million square foot West Hall convention center expansion, which is currently more than 80% complete, signaling the completion of excavation for the two one-way tunnels known as the Convention Center Loop. Three stations locations (see map below) will offer convenient access between key LVCC destinations and nearby transportation connections.
Typical walk time between the New Exhibit Hall to the existing North/Central Hall can take up to 15 minutes. The same trip on LVCC Loop will take approximately 1 minute. Loop is a high-speed underground public transportation system in which passengers are transported via compatible autonomous electric vehicles (AEVs) at up to 155 miles per hour. Standard AEVs are Tesla Model X and Model 3 vehicles. High-occupancy AEVs use a modified Tesla Model 3 chassis to transport up to 16 passengers with both sitting and standing room.
The LVCC project is a test bed for Musk's boring-cost innovations, facilitated by using the AEVs. Here's how The Boring Company's web site makes its case for reducing tunnel boring costs:
"First, we reduced the tunnel diameter. The current standard for a one-lane tunnel is approximately 28 feet. By using autonomous electric vehicles (AEVs), the diameter can be reduced to less than 14 feet. Reducing the diameter in half reduces tunneling costs by 3-4 times.
"Second, we’re working to significantly increase the speed of the tunnel boring machine (TBM). TBMs are super slow. A snail is effectively 14 times faster than a soft-soil TBM. Our goal is to defeat the snail in a race. Ways to increase TBM speed:
- "Increase TBM power. The machine’s power output can be tripled (while coupled with the appropriate upgrades in cooling systems).
- "Continuously tunnel. When building a tunnel, current soft-soil machines tunnel for 50% of the time and erect tunnel support structures the other 50%. This is inefficient. Existing technology can be modified to support continuous tunneling activity.
- "Automate the TBM. While smaller diameter tunneling machines are automated, larger ones currently require multiple human operators. By automating the larger TBMs, both safety and efficiency are increased.
- "Go electric. Current tunnel operations often include diesel locomotives. These have been replaced by electric locomotives.
- "Tunneling R&D. In the United States, there is virtually no investment in tunneling Research and Development (and in many other forms of construction). Thus, the construction industry is one of the only sectors in our economy that has not improved its productivity in the last 50 years."
The West Hall expansion and Convention Center Loop are scheduled to debut to the public in January 2021 and are part of the destination’s investment in bringing fun and groundbreaking transportation solutions to the meetings and conventions industry.
“This milestone not only helps usher in the future of transportation in Las Vegas, but it signals the destination’s ability to push through during trying times and continue to meet the evolving needs of our visitors,” said Steve Hill, LVCVA CEO and president. “Las Vegas continues to break through boundaries, and we look forward to offering this first-of-its-kind transportation solution to our convention attendees.”The first commercial endeavor for Musk’s company, the $52.5 million project will allow convention attendees to be whisked across the 200-acre campus in under two minutes, free of charge, in all-electric Tesla vehicles. Construction is already underway on all three passenger stations in the system.
Construction on the project has moved swiftly. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) moved from board approval to completing the excavation of both tunnels (two 4,500 ft. journeys) in less than one year, proving that Las Vegas embraces new ideas and quickly executes them to meet the evolving needs of visitors.
The underground transportation system’s three passenger stations connect the existing 3.2 million square-foot convention center to the $980 million West Hall expansion.
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) is charged with marketing Southern Nevada as a tourism and convention destination worldwide and with operating the Las Vegas Convention Center. With nearly 150,000 hotel rooms in Las Vegas alone and more than 11 million square feet of meeting and exhibit space citywide, the LVCVA's mission centers on attracting leisure and business visitors to the area.