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Elon Musk’s South Florida Tunnel Project

On Jan. 18, Elon Musk tweeted, “Cars and trucks stuck in traffic generate megatons of toxic gases & particulate, but @boringcompany road tunnels under Miami would solve traffic & be an example to the world.”

This was about Miami’s notoriously congested traffic, which is a consistent topic in south Florida. “It makes it hard to commute. Didn’t used to be that way. I have neighbors who are moving because of all the congestion. I’m considering moving, too.” said Bruce Gipson, a Boca Raton resident.

Musk founded the Boring Company in 2016 with the primary goal of reducing traffic by building tunnels underground, and according to his tweet, he is ready to start doing business with Florida.

“Spoke with @RonDeSantisFL about tunnels last week. If Governor & Mayor want this done, we will do it,” Musk said.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez seemed to be interested in Musk’s proposal. “I think we have a unique opportunity to create a signature project, not just for Miami, but for the world,” Suarez said in a video posted to his Twitter page.

Suarez’s position seems expected as he has been trying to turn Miami into the country’s new tech hub for a long time, mainly citing that this could lead to more high-paying jobs and be beneficial for the economy. Working with Musk to make Miami among the only cities to have underground tunnels could lead Suarez one step closer to his goal.

While many including Suarez and Florida chief financial officer Jimmy Patronis were optimistic about the eccentric idea of reducing congested traffic, others wondered just how realistic it was to drill underground tunnels.

“He [Musk] knows jack squat about south Florida, which explains why Musk thinks we need tunnels to relieve our traffic congestion,” wrote Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino.

Cerabino went into detail on his stance, claiming that building an underground tunnel in south Florida would take a lifetime, especially when one considers that it takes years in south Florida just to widen a highway exit ramp.

Additionally, many elected officials of Miami such as Shevrin Jones are wondering whether the city should be directing its time and money toward underground tunnels when it can barely control flooding.

“Are we going to forget that there are some really pressing issues that we need to be talking about as a community?” said Jones.

According to Suarez, the estimated cost of the project is around $30 million and could take about six months until it is completely finished and ready for use.

Despite criticism stemming from just how realistic and feasible this plan is, it is important to note that a similar project is currently underway in Las Vegas. In December 2020, the Las Vegas City Council voted unanimously to allow the Boring Company to build underground tunnels.

However, unlike Las Vegas, Miami is vulnerable to rising sea levels and is mainly on top of limestone, which water can easily move through.

Michael Mooney, a professor of underground construction and tunneling at the Colorado School of Mines, claims that these differences should not be an issue as it is rather doable and common to tunnel through limestone.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has yet to make a public statement regarding the plan.

Featured image: Elon Musk in 2019. Unmodified photo by Jae C. Hong used under a Creative Commons license. (https://bit.ly/3qEKw5v)

Check out other recent articles from the Florida Political Review here.        

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