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Elon Musk’s SpaceX Hyperloop tunnel dismantled at LA city’s request

SpaceX demolishes the Hyperloop prototype to construct a new parking area

The installation of an above-ground tube in front of SpaceX’s Hawthorne headquarters six years ago generated interest in the company’s next experiment from all across the city.

A journey from Los Angeles to San Francisco would take only 35 minutes thanks to the planned Hyperloop transportation system, which engineers and students from across the world competed to create and test. Passengers would be propelled through tubes in levitating, autonomous electric pods at speeds of up to 600 mph.

There isn’t a Hyperloop system operating right now. And at the city’s request, the tube on Jack Northrop Avenue, which attracted concerns about the vehicle and pedestrian access as well as inquiries about its function after languishing there for a number of years, has been taken down.

Councilwoman Angie Reyes English of Hawthorne advised municipal officials to ask SpaceX to remove the tube because “the city has been extremely helpful and has been quite supportive in the efforts that SpaceX has undertaken.” But in the end, we need to give the neighborhood’s streets back and take into account other companies and factors.

It is still unknown if SpaceX or Musk’s tunneling company, Boring Co., are still working on the Hyperloop system. The dismantling of the Hawthorne tube this week was originally reported by Bloomberg, which described it as “symbolic of a bigger retreat” and said that the Hyperloop project “had been indefinitely halted.”

Requests for a response from representatives of SpaceX and Boring Co. went unanswered.

After the last student competition in the summer of 2019, SpaceX seemed to stop working at the almost mile-long test tube, which gathered dirt and trash from the surrounding train lines as well as pine needles from trees that hadn’t been cut in years due to access issues, according to English.

The tube complicated existing worries in the congested region about traffic congestion, cars moving at freeway speeds, and pedestrian safety by taking up an eastward lane heading toward Crenshaw Avenue.

After staff members were hit by cars while crossing Crenshaw Avenue, according to a Daily Breeze story, SpaceX created a pedestrian bridge linking its headquarters to a parking garage in 2017. The city approved of the plan, according to English.

The tube caused people to stroll down the roadway, and Alex Estrada, manager of Tow World on Jack Northrop Avenue, said he started to worry about them.

It essentially got in the way of everyone, he said.

He and others started to wonder why the tube was still there after the SpaceX contests were over.

Estrada stated, “I figured they simply forgot about it or left it there.”

After the tube was taken out, a plastic cone and some residual barricades blocked one of the lanes of Jack Northrop. The city has not given its approval for the conversion of an asphalt area that runs beside the trains into a parking lot, according to English.

The council member said she would look at methods for parking enforcement at the illegal lot and planned to ask for the removal of the barriers.

SpaceX's Hyperloop
A student team from Germany loads its pod during the 2017 Hyperloop Pod Competition by SpaceX in Hawthorne. After the last student competition in 2019, the tube sat idle for years.(Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

To assure its safety and to guarantee pedestrian right-of-way, English stated, “We simply have to clean it up.”

English emphasized the employment produced and boost to the local economy while claiming to have a tight working connection with SpaceX and Boring Co.

English and the rest of the council voted in favor of the project after Boring Co. requested permission to build a second mile-long tunnel through a Hawthorne neighborhood to test its subterranean driverless cars. But she urged the business to do more community engagement to let locals know about the project, which was launched in late 2018.

Following the removal of the above-ground tube, English and other City Hall employees are now focusing on the subterranean tunnel that runs beside 120th Street.

English is unsure about the status of the Hawthorne project since Musk has a history of abandoning tunnel projects, according to English.

As recently as last summer, officials of the Boring Co. informed City Attorney Robert Kim that the firm was utilizing the tunnel for development and research. After the job is finished, the tunnel must be backfilled with concrete, according to Kim.

After a lawsuit claimed that the city of Los Angeles broke the law by trying to exclude the tunnel from environmental assessment, Musk earlier abandoned plans to construct a tunnel through Sepulveda Boulevard on the Westside in 2018.

Musk has lately abandoned plans to build a tunnel between the Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink station and Ontario International Airport. Transit authorities in San Bernardino County want to go on with the project without him.

According to its website, Boring Co. is dedicated to completing tunnel and loop projects in Las Vegas, including a tunnel that would take visitors to the city’s convention center.

English has seen a dearth of activity in Hawthorne near the entry and exits of the tunnel dug by the Boring Co. To make sure the place is operating, she intends to request a tour.

Source: LATimes

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Written by Alex Bruno

Freelance space writer Alex Bruno specializes in covering China's quickly expanding space industry. In 2021, he started writing for SpaceXMania. He also contributes to publications including SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. When Alex was a small child, he first experienced the space bug after seeing Voyager photographs of alien planets in our solar system. When not in space, Alex likes to go trail jogging in the Finnish countryside.

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