Elon Musk’s vision of a traffic-free, betunneled paradise has suffered a symbolic blow, as the first Hyperloop tunnel in California has been razed to be replaced with more parking space at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
Bloomberg reports that Erik Wright, the owner of a company that helped build the tube, was informed in a group chat that the Hyperloop tunnel would be torn down. The outlet said that no sign of the tunnel is visible at ground level anymore, and that a city council member said it would be replaced with additional parking spaces. SpaceX has not responded to our request for confirmation on this story.
The tunnel ran along Jack Northrop Avenue for around one mile near SpaceX’s headquarters. Conceived in 2017, it hosted student competitions that challenged teams to run pods at high speed through the tunnel.
Read: The Boring Company’s “Traffic-Free” Hyperloop Gets Backed Up After Traffic Jam At CES 2022
More than 600 students from over 40 countries will demonstrate their Pod designs for a next-generation, high-speed transportation system. pic.twitter.com/Ys8zWyTUfm
— Hyperloop (@Hyperloop) June 22, 2018
The competition was run in 2018 and 2019, with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk claiming that the event would be run in a 10 km (6.2 mile) vacuum tunnel with a curve by 2020, but that was never to be.
The Hyperloop initially promised to provide high-speed, intercity travel in underground vacuum tunnels. With the help of the Musk-owned Boring Company, which, he claimed, could dig tunnels faster and more efficiently than existing technologies, the system promised to be able to get passengers from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes.
The company’s ambitions have been seriously scaled back now, though, and the related Boring Company’s first real tunnel is just 0.8 miles long, cost $49 million to build, hosts only human-driven Tesla vehicles, and runs from one end of the Las Vegas Convention Center to the other. The city intends to add more tunnels, but plans to introduce them in cities like Chicago, LA, and others have died away.
For the builders of the original Hyperloop tunnel, though, seeing it go has been a little emotional. Wright said that he and some of the other contractors on the project shared “a sentimental moment” after learning that it would be destroyed, saying it was “like a memorial service.”
Next year’s @Hyperloop competition will be in a 10km vacuum tunnel with a curve
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 22, 2019
Lead image SpaceX