The City of Chicago has selected billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's The Boring Company to build a high-speed underground commuter system from the Loop to O'Hare International Airport, one of the world's busiest, media reported on Wednesday.
There was no immediate statement from the City of Chicago.
The deal comes about a month after Musk unveiled a plan to burrow a high-speed network of "personalized mass transit" tunnels under Los Angeles that he said could be built without disturbance or noise at the surface. If the Boring Company and Chicago reach a final deal, the project would be privately funded, but many other questions remain, because Loop has not been tested at scale.
Musk and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel are expected to announce the proposal on Thursday in Chicago, the Tribune reported.
The skates would travel through underground tunnels, and could carry as many as 16 passengers at speeds of up to 150 miles per hour. (This means there will be a Loop to The Loop-very cute, Chicago.) Unlike the Hyperloop idea, the tunnels will not be depressurized.
Mayoral spokesman Grant Klinzman told GeekWire in a tweet that the Boring Company won the bid.
The electric pods would depart both O'Hare and Block 37 as frequently as every 30 seconds.
One of the city's main stipulations was that the service cost less to use than comparable taxi and ride-share services, and presumably The Boring Company has said it can agree to those conditions.
The company beat out a consortium that included Mott MacDonald, the civil engineering firm that designed a terminal at London's Heathrow Airport, and JLC Infrastructure, an infrastructure fund backed by former basketball star Earvin "Magic" Johnson, said the people, who declined to be identified because they weren't authorized to speak publicly. Exact project costs and construction timelines will be negotiated with the contract. The result gives the young company a big boost in legitimacy as it tries to get transportation projects underway in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
The planned Chicago system will feature what the company calls "electric skates", which are vehicles based on Tesla's Model X SUV.
But in Chicago, the city will assist The Boring Company with all necessary permits, and there does seem to be some political will to have such a tunnel built within the city, and relatively quickly.