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3p Weekend: Elon Musk Claims “Verbal Approval” to Build East Coast Underground Hyperloop; Cities Shrug

By Leon Kaye


With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.


Donald Trump’s ability to score attention via social media is unparalleled, but Elon Musk is not far behind. The CEO of Tesla scored heaps of excitement, mixed with some scorn, when he announced yesterday that he had “verbal government approval” to build an underground tunnel for a Hyperloop that would link New York City to Washington, D.C.


Musk claims The Boring Company's  Hyperloop system could transport citizens from DC to New York in 29 minutes. The Boring Company first began as a joke born of traffic frustration, then became pipe dream. But since Musk first floated the idea of the Hyperloop in 2013, various start-ups have tested the idea. Hyperloop One, for example, launched its first test run last year.

Musk’s reputation as a master technology and business disruptor is also taking shape with The Boring Company. Earlier this year, the company’s technology, which supposedly can dig and reinforce tunnels at the same time, started a test project in Los Angeles. Musk in part launched the venture out of his criticism of conventional tunnel construction, which in the most extreme cases can cost $1 billion a mile. A recent Wall Street Journal assessment of tunneling infrastructure projects in New York City estimated that the costs range from $19,000 to $1 million per foot, though advances in technology both lower costs and speed up the process.

The northeastern U.S. has long relied on rail to move travelers from D.C. to Boston, though critics of Amtrak say that the system is expensive and slow despite the 2000 rollout of Acela Express.

But as of press time, officials in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York, the four largest cities that would be served by Musk’s conceptual Hyperloop, have denied any such approval for a project. “Nobody in City Hall, or any of our city agencies, has heard from Mr. Musk or any representatives of his company,” said a spokesman for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in an emailed statement to the Los Angeles Times.

Image credit: The Boring Company

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye