Elon Musk’s Hyperloop test tunnel has reportedly been removed from the SpaceX headquarters in California. The project is run by Musk’s civil engineering company, The Boring Company, but the prototype tube sat idle for years on Jack Northrop Avenue. According to the LA Times, it drew complaints from pedestrians and motorists before the city stepped in to have it dismantled.
Musk’s proposed Hyperloop system was designed to transport travelers through low-pressure tubes in pods at speeds as high as 760 miles per hour. The ambitious invention would reportedly cut the commute from Los Angeles to San Francisco down to 35 minutes.
The demise of the hyperloop test tunnel is symbolic of a larger retreat. While Musk still says he wants to build a Hyperloop, the project has been indefinitely shelved. Musk did end up founding a tunnel-based company called Boring Co., but it falls short of levitation and jet-like speeds. Instead, at its transit system in Las Vegas, Teslas drive conference-goers through dedicated subterranean roads at a ho-hum pace.
Before it was torn down, the Hawthorne Hyperloop test tunnel served as a proving ground for would-be Hyperloop technology. Starting in 2017, it hosted student competitions for running Hyperloop pods at high speeds.
Construction engineering firm Aecom designed and built the tunnel’s foundation and steel tube. Precision was responsible for everything inside the tube, including the concrete subtrack, the concrete joints, the aluminum track, and the interior lighting. Each of those components expands and contracts at different rates, making it hard to meet the forty-thousandths-of-an-inch measuring requirements.
After he learned the tunnel’s fate a few months ago via group text, Wright got on a video call with other contractors who worked on the project. The call was a remembrance. “We had a sentimental moment knowing this was going to be taken down,” he said. “Like a memorial service.”