In looking for out-of-the-box ways to cut travel time between Manhattan and JFK Airport in Queens, New York officials recently reached out to Tesla founder Elon Musk for engineering ideas, Crain’s reports. Musk’s The Boring Company reportedly outlined strategies for connecting John F. Kennedy International Airport with Manhattan based on the tunnel system the company has developed, though several challenges were immediately evident.
The request for subterranean transit ideas is apparently far from unusual. A spokesman for The Boring Company said. “We get approached by tons of cities who are similarly interested in learning more.” The company has been in discussion with several cities about its “Loop” short-distance tunnel-based transportation systems and recently opened a test tunnel in Hawthorne, California, near its headquarters.
For the Manhattan-Queens tunnel, Musk’s company proposed a pair of tunnels of less than 14 feet wide through which autonomous electric vehicles would run in rapid succession, one inbound and one outbound. The concept is similar to the one outlined on the company’s website and one proposed for a project in Chicago.
The narrow width keeps construction costs and time lower. A spokesman for the company emphasized that discussions were preliminary and that there was no detailed proposal from the company.
Possible issues identified by engineers included ventilation, the logistics of emergency response, and the impact the tunnels would have on existing New York tunnels. The Boring Company said that its tunnels would have no impact on existing infrastructure.
On its website, The Boring Company explains that, as with subways, the system features regular emergency exits; unlike subways, however, the system does not have a high-voltage third rail, making exit paths safer and wider despite the tunnels’ smaller diameter. The company also says fire risk low is because of the lack of a third rail and because the tunnels are lined with non-flammable concrete.
Cuomo brought up the idea of building tunnels to JFK in a speech two years ago. Today’s riders can travel to JFK via public transit but must transfer from the subway to AirTrain. In addition, the city plans to conduct studies for a 1.5-mile tunnel that would connect LaGuardia Airport to local public transit.
Last year, as 6sqft reported, The Boring Company received a building permit from the Washington, D.C. government that could jump-start a plan to bring a high-speed tube system between New York City and D.C. The permit allows preparatory and excavation work to begin on what is known as “The Hyperloop One” would be able to take passengers from NYC to D.C., with stops in Philadelphia and Baltimore, in just 29 minutes via a tube moved by electric propulsion. On Hyperloop One, riders would board magnetically levitating pods that can travel more than 700 miles per hour.
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