Back in August, The Boring Company was already distancing itself from a plan it pitched earlier in the year to build a test tunnel under Sepulveda Boulevard and the 405 freeway in Los Angeles.
On Tuesday, The Boring Company and a group of Westside residents issued a joint statement that they had “amicably settled” a lawsuit brought by the residents against The Boring Company in May of this year, according to the Los Angeles Times. The company, founded by Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, said it would drop plans to build the 405 test tunnel and focus instead on building the so-called “Dugout Loop” that will run between a downtown LA Metro station and Dodger Stadium, if all goes as planned.
Musk announced the 405-parallel tunnel in an evening talk back in May, describing it as a 2.7 mile north-south test tunnel that wouldn’t carry the general public—at first. Musk added at the time that The Boring Company would eventually do test rides to get user feedback. The City of Los Angeles appeared poised to fast-track Musk’s idea, with LA Metro announcing: “We’ll be partners moving forward.”
Musk told the audience in May that the state of California had conditionally exempted The Boring Company from having to obtain a permit under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). If the tunnel was going to be used to shuttle people, then The Boring Company would complete the full CEQA permit, Musk promised. But CEQA permitting can take years, and The Boring Company didn’t have that kind of time.
At the same time, two affluent neighborhood groups—the Brentwood Residents Coalition and the Sunset Coalition—sued the City of Los Angeles for seeking to waive the CEQA requirements.
“Musk’s Boring Co. has posted images online showing a spider web of possible tunnel routes across LA, with proposed stations at the Getty Center, Dodger Stadium, Union Station and Los Angeles International Airport,” the LA Times wrote. “Opponents say that map is evidence that the proposed Westside tunnel, which would start near Pico and Sepulveda boulevards, is part of a much larger planned underground transportation network.”
In August, The Boring Company was already moving away from the LA tunnel. At the time, the company wrote, “Previously, The Boring Company proposed a test tunnel under Sepulveda as a proof of concept for tunneling in Los Angeles. However, this test tunnel proposal did not include passenger operations and included only one surface terminal (as opposed to two).”
Now, The Boring Company intends to focus on the Dugout Loop, for which it has begun the CEQA permitting process (although it’s unclear if a full permit will be acquired before construction starts). Critics have charged that The Boring Company has taken advantage of poorer neighborhoods, like the Hawthorne neighborhood under which Musk’s first tunnel is being completed. Meanwhile, richer neighborhoods represented by the coalition of Westside neighborhoods have the resources to fight back. Others might see the opposition from wealthy LA neighborhoods as a form of NIMBYism that stops innovation from coming to impacted LA transit.
For now, Musk’s first Hawthorne tunnel is almost complete. The Boring company intends to open the tunnel to the public in December.