Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel has announced the selection of two teams to proceed with competing to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the O’Hare Express operating system. Elon Musk’s The Boring Company and O’Hare Xpress LLC will be eligible to respond to a Request for Proposals (RFP) that will be issued on Friday by the Chicago Infrastructure Trust (CIT).
The project aims to deliver express service from downtown Chicago to O’Hare International Airport (ORD) in 20 minutes or less, cutting more than 50 percent off current travel times.
“Strengthening connections between Chicago’s economic engines will drive our economy into the future, build on the city’s legacy of innovation and pay dividends for generations to come,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Today, we have two teams that have the ability to get the job done and create an express connection between downtown Chicago and O’Hare Airport without a taxpayer subsidy.”
The CIT, on behalf of the City of Chicago, selected the two respondents to proceed to the next phase of the procurement process based on their qualifications and ability to deliver the critical project with no public subsidy. The Boring Company and O’Hare Xpress LLC (Meridiam, Antarctica Capital, JLC Infrastructure, Mott MacDonald and First Transit) are two of the four entities that responded to a Request for Qualification (RFQ) that was issued late last year. Responses to the RFP will be due on May 18, 2018.
“Of the submissions received, these two teams represent the best potential partners to deliver this express service, which will be a key part of Chicago’s continued economic growth,” Chicago Treasurer and CIT Chair Kurt Summers said. “The CIT’s role as a specialized resource to the City focused on infrastructure financing and development involvement makes it the clear choice to take a lead as we seek a partner for this truly transformative and historic project.”
The RFP specifies that the O’Hare Express Service should include a downtown station, an ORD station as well as maintenance facilities. Travel corridors may be above or below ground. Service level goals are travel times of 20 minutes or less with service frequency of at least every 15 minutes for the majority of the day. Premium service fares must be reasonable and less than the cost of current taxi and ride-share services. Any proposal must also address how potential impacts on existing transportation systems and the environment would be avoided or minimized.
Although cost estimates for the project are not yet known, the RFQ and RFP clearly stipulate that the O’Hare Express Service will be funded solely by project-specific revenues (like fares or advertising) and financed entirely by the developer. At this point in the competitive process additional information about the bids will not be released.
The express service stands to offer a myriad of benefits to the City, travelers, and residents: providing a faster commute between the airport and downtown; helping to mitigate congestion on the region’s roadways; fostering economic growth, and creating jobs throughout the lifetime of the project. The current total daily number or air passengers traveling between ORD and the Chicago Central Business District is approximately 20,000 and is forecast to grow to at least 35,000 daily air passengers in 2045.
In my opinion, as a retired hard rock miner, letting the bid to the Boring Company is extremely premature as Maglev transportation is barely in its infant stage – especially when a sealed tunnel bore is concerned, due to the simplest of physics.
Dr. Henry Liu explained to me many many years ago that a high-speed system as proposed by the Boring Company would only work in outer space as people would die due to the high speed acceleration and deceleration forces if used on earth. Dr. Liu, and Dr. Sanai Kosugi were pioneers of the Pnuematic Capsule Pipeline method of mining mass transportation for mined ores and waste rock from tunneling. Sadly for me and many others these men have passed away.
They both were fully involved in the design and the construction phases of the single pipe waste rock and ready mix cement transport system used in the Akima Shinkansen twin train tunnel for the JPRR LTD and they designed and oversaw the design, installation and start up of the twin pipe Pneumatic Capsule Pipeline system used to transport broken limestone ore from the Karasawa Limestone Quarry to the Sumitomo Cement plant 10,000 feet away. The twin pipe Pneumatic Capsule Pipeline System replaced a quarry to cement plant dedicated rail line that delivered broken limestone ore to the cement plant three times per day on the single track route.
A Vertical Pnuematic Capsule Pipeline System designed by Drs. Kosugi and Dr. Liu was employed by the subway contractor that built the Tokyo Subway extension to transport tunnel muck from the single dumping station to the surface for later disposal.
I was lucky enough to be able to stand on the shoulders of these two giants and see the future and yet we still continue to use belt conveyors for long distance transport of tunnel waste rock and mixed tunnel muck and rubber tired haul trucks that use expensive rubber tires ($60,000.00 USD+) and consume 64+ gallons per hour of diesel fuel whether they are full with a payload or empty returning for the next load.
A pnuematic capsule pipeline system is 98% efficient in the transport of waste rock and the transport of ready mix concrete as proven by the Akima Tunnel excavation which used the same capsule liners for the outbound transport of waste rock to a dump site near the single tunnel portal and the transport of the ready mix concrete from the tunnel portal to the form works used to construct the twin track tunnel floor, the center barrier separating the two tracks and the convex roof line of the Akima tunnel behind the shielded tunnel boring machine used in the excavation.
The Akima Tunnel was constructed from a single tunnel portal as the opposing tunnel portal location had no room for the implementation of a complete tunneling system, a ready mix concrete plant and the necessity of a nearby location of a nearby waste rock dumping area for the construction.
Dr. Kosugi always said and I quote”the most expensive thing is the pipe”.
Leon Edward Zaharis
What tunnel qualifications does the Boring Company have after less than one year in this industry?