LOS ANGELES -- Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has broken ground on an underground tunnel he plans to burrow beneath the city of Los Angeles to spare himself from having to sit in traffic.
He's also about to purchase a large earth drilling machine to continue the tunnel, which was started on his companies' properties in Hawthorne, CA, according to a person familiar with his thinking. Elon Musk is chief executive of the space transportation company SpaceX and electric carmaker Tesla Motors, which are located on sprawling adjacent properties in Hawthorne.
The drilling is just a hobby; Musk is not planning to start a new tunneling company, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the details have not been made public. The person added
The idea was first hatched by Musk in December, who tweeted, "Traffic is driving me nuts" and "am going to build a tunnel boring machine and just start digging." He said it would start beneath his desk at SpaceX.
The tweet gave rise to a flurry of speculation, which was further fueled on Wednesday, when Musk tweeted again that he had made "exciting progress." Then, late Friday night, on the eve of a large student competition being held at SpaceX, Musk tweeted "we start digging the tunnel tonight."
It was unclear whether Musk had applied for legal permits to begin his digging. Apparently digging, even on one's own property, is not always allowed.
Drilling underneath public property requires a variety of permits, which are issued locally in California.
The City of Hawthorne could not be reached for comment.
The engineering competition was for the best design for a pod to go through a hyperloop, a vacuum tube that can propel vehicles at very high speeds. Musk proposed the idea of building a hyperloop two years ago, in a white paper that inspired entrepreneurs to build hyperloop companies and engineering students around the world to compete to build one.