As is often the case in 2020, a Tweet is at the foundation of another news story. This time it is a somewhat cryptic Tweet from the Boring Company that has set off speculation that the company will be expanding to Austin, TX to begin building a tunnel.
The Nov. 9 Tweet read, “Rumor has it that “Austin Chalk” is geologically one of best soils for tunneling. Want to find out? Austin jobs now available.”
The Boring Company itself was introduced to the world when founder Elon Musk Tweeted that he was frustrated with traffic in Los Angeles, CA and was going to begin boring tunnel beneath the streets.
The latest Tweet is supported by the company’s listing for at least eight new positions in the city.
The new roles include a business development lead, a technical recruiter and multiple electric and mechanical engineers.
The Boring Co. is based alongside SpaceX in Hawthorne, CA.
The Los Angeles Business Review Journal reported that an ambitious proposal to build a new underground transportation network beneath Los Angeles hit legal and logistical snags, however. More recent projects have included a nearly completed people mover system at the Las Vegas Convention Center and a planned transit tunnel at the Ontario Airport in San Bernardino County.
It’s not clear yet whether the jobs listed in Austin are related to a specific project.
Austin voters recently approved funding for an ambitious $7.1 billion transit overhaul that includes a light rail tunnel servicing the downtown area. However, the project is still in the early planning stages and Boring Co. has made no indication that it plans to submit a bid for the tunnel work.
Another Musk-led company, Tesla, plans to open a new factory in Austin by next year.
The automaker has been a crucial part of Boring Co. projects so far. The people mover built by Boring in Las Vegas will transport riders in vehicles manufactured by Tesla, and the planned transit system at Ontario Airport would also rely on Tesla-made passenger shuttles.
The Boring Company has five product lines, all of which are centered around tunneling. The startup, which raised $120 million in new funding in summer 2019, offers the base tunnel to customers as well as those designed for use by utilities, pedestrians, freight and it’s so-called Loop service.
The company describes the Loop as an underground public transportation system in which passengers are transported via autonomous vehicles at up to 150 miles per hour through tunnels between stations. The company says the autonomous vehicles are Tesla Model S, 3 and X. (It should be noted that while Tesla vehicles do have robust advanced driver assistance systems, they are not considered by government bodies such as the U.S. DOT as fully autonomous.)
The Loop is what Las Vegas Las Vegas Convention Center officials sprang for. Under its contract, the LVCC Loop is supposed to transport attendees through two 0.8-mile underground tunnels in Tesla vehicles, four or five at a time. Planning files reviewed by TechCrunch seem to show that the Loop system will not be able to move anywhere near the number of people LVCC wants, and that TBC agreed to.