The Las Vegas City Council, in a unanimous vote on Dec. 16, granted a special use permit that allows Elon Musk’s Boring Co. to extend its Vegas Loop transportation system into the city. The 4.6-mile counterclockwise circuit will run north under Las Vegas Boulevard to the downtown resort corridor and then south on Main Street.

Boring Co. President Steve Davis told the council the project would require “zero public dollars” as it is developed through the city’s tourist areas.

“It will be financed by our company and various property owners,” he said. But he declined to address overall cost, saying that depends on how quickly the project proceeds.

Davis also could not say when construction work will begin, but that it would be after permits and licenses are in place and council again weighs in on the plan.

“It’s going to take some time to get everyone on board,” he said. “I don’t want to give an exact date, but I hope it is soon.”

Broad Support

The downtown leg of the project has support from the city’s resort community.

“We were very excited from the get-go,” Stephen Thayer, vice president and general manager of The Strat resort, told the council. “Very few times in someone’s lifetime you can get behind something that is transformational.”

The Vegas Loop project began with a $52-million tunnel system linking the Las Vegas Convention Center campus, where construction began in late 2019. The two 0.8-mile-long tunnels are nearly complete but will remain unused while the convention center is closed during the pandemic.

The convention center system will employ self-piloted Teslas traveling in 14-ft-wide tunnels bored 40 ft below grade, with the goal of moving 4,400 people per hour. Extensions of that system have been announced for the Encore and Resorts World hotels, which are near the convention center.

Vegas Love

Councilwoman Olivia Diaz asked Davis that since Boring Co. is using its Las Vegas project as a showcase—one of its boring machines will soon go on display at the convention center—whether the company would be moving its headquarters from California to Nevada.

“With all of the publicity surrounding this project, maybe the company should give Las Vegas a little more love and move here,” she said.

Davis didn’t comment on the invitation but said that half of the company’s 2,000 employees are already based in Las Vegas.

The latest action puts the city’s stamp of approval on the Boring Co.’s announced plans for a larger underground transportation system that would link McCarran International Airport with the Strip, Allegiant Stadium and downtown.

Davis said a full system would allow travelers to go from the airport to downtown in seven minutes, a trip that can take close to an hour in the city’s notoriously slow traffic.

The company has submitted applications with Clark County for a pair of loops along the Strip, one serving Caesars Entertainment properties and one that will reach downtown. Those proposals are scheduled to be presented publicly in February.

In early December, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority board removed a barrier to the tunnel project when it voted to eliminate a noncompete agreement that protected the financially troubled Las Vegas Monorail. The convention authority, which calls the Boring Co.’s system “the future of transportation in Las Vegas,” purchased the monorail out of bankruptcy court in November.