Entrepreneur Elon Musk's digging company, Boring Co., could start the construction of hyperloop tunnels, terminating near West Pratt and South Paca streets in Baltimore, as early as January, according to documents obtained by Capital News Service.
In a conditional utility permit granted to Boring Co. by the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration on Oct. 16, Musk's company estimates it will begin digging two parallel, 12.4-mile transportation tunnels in January 2018.
The document lists the start location as "immediately north of MD 175" and details a dig to "within 0.25 miles of intersection of W. Pratt and S. Paca" — about a block from Oriole Park at Camden Yards — with tunnels running under the approximate route of the Maryland-owned section of Route 295, or the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.
Steve Davis, an employee at SpaceX, one of Musk's companies focused on rocket and spacecraft manufacturing, signed Boring Co.'s application for the conditional permit. He was also in email exchanges with Maryland Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn and his staff, where Davis arranged meetings with Maryland officials in September and November.
In those same emails, Rahn touches on some of the confusion surrounding Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan's October announcement in support of Musk's hyperloop: What technology is being installed underneath Route 295?
Boring Co., a company started by Musk, envisions tunnels that will cart cars and people underneath major cities on electric sleds at speeds approaching 150 mph.
Musk has already begun implementing his vision near Los Angeles, starting construction of a tunnel underneath SpaceX's facility in Hawthorne, California, and sharing a map Dec. 4 detailing proposed routes.
The email exchange between Davis and Rahn mention these electric sleds, indicating an intention for installing Boring Co. technology under Route 295.
This differs from the vision Musk shared in a July tweet, proposing an East Coast hyperloop transporting passengers at speeds of up to 760 mph on air skis, resulting in a 29-minute, New York City-to-D.C. commute, a project that apparently received "verbal govt approval," again according to a July tweet by Musk.
How Maryland government and Boring Co. will resolve the conflict of technologies between these two visions, as well as how Musk plans to dig under the remaining two-thirds of Route 295, which is under federal jurisdiction, is yet to be seen; the Maryland State Highway Administration documents indicated it was considering issuing a full utility permit to Boring Co. after receiving more details on the project.
A Maryland Department of Transportation representative on Wednesday told Capital News Service it would not disclose those details citing "confidential commercial information," and also indicated that no public dollars were being spent on the project.