Public records suggest that Elon Musk is drastically over-inflating how much progress he’s made on creating a tunnel under Los Angeles.
One of Musk’s companies, SpaceX, has been planning since last summer to build a pedestrian tunnel, not a commuter tunnel, from its office to its employee parking garage across the street, according to public records obtained by LA Weekly through the California Public Records Act.
The company has yet to receive state approval from California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) to begin digging. OSHA is responsible for granting permission for companies to construct add-ons to their facilities.
“Cal/OSHA has not received any contact” from SpaceX, agency spokesman Frank Polizzi told reporters earlier in February. “They had no contact with the county, another step in the tunneling process.”
The agency notified Brett Horton, the director of construction at SpaceX, that the company needs permission from OSHA before it can build any tunnel.
“We will submit to Cal/OSHA for the tunnel when we have a path of travel,” Horton told reporters when asked about the process. “For now, just a hole in our ground.”
Musk, who chairs SpaceX and electric company Tesla, has hyped up the tunnel boring idea since the latter part of December, when he tweeted “Traffic is driving me nuts. Am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging …”
He even gave the program a name: “The Boring Company.”
Musk told his Twitter followers that he was “actually going to do this” after media talking heads rolled their eyes at the California billionaire’s far-fetched idea.
The tunnel “boring” idea has some practical applications, Musk believes. He told reporters earlier this year that the ideal way to ease the country’s crowded infrastructure was to build miles and miles of tunnels.
But news that Musk’s tunneling vision might not be as fleshed out as once believed indicates the idea might have been made simply to gain attention from the Trump administration.
Musk was added to a business forum in December responsible for giving private sector industry input to President Donald Trump. He has since become a reliable foot solider for the former reality TV star over the objections of his liberal fan-base.
Musk received scorn after halfheartedly criticizing the president’s January decision to temporarily ban refugees.
His initial tweet responding to Trump’s order clamping down on immigration went over like a lead balloon: “the blanket entry ban on citizens from certain primarily Muslim countries is not the best way to address the country’s problems,” Musk tweeted Jan. 28.
Musk’s views on infrastructure spending and desire to ramp up jobs at his California-based Tesla certainly caught the eye of Stephen Bannon, a Trump White House adviser who’s become a boogeyman-type figure among Democrats.
The former Goldman Sachs banker told an associate that Musk and his companies are an embodiment of the kind of U.S.-based job growth Trump wants to create, according to a Bloomberg report published in early February.
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