- Facebook spent $20 million to revitalize a railroad bridge near its office to improve traffic.
- The project, abandoned due to political pressure, could offer a glimpse into the future of The Boring Company.
- Elon Musk’s tunnel infrastructure company has completed just one known project.
Facebook’s failed plans to revitalize an old railroad bridge to relieve traffic congestion near its offices are among the latest stumbling blocks for forward-thinking tech companies trying to solve transportation problems.
The social media company planned to refurbish the Dumbarton Rail Bridge — an unused railroad bridge across the San Francisco Bay — after acquiring Instagram and Whatsapp to grow its workforce from 3,200 in 2011 to over 25,000 in six years almost tenfold in 2017.
The bridge was intended to streamline increased traffic to its headquarters and expand Facebook’s real estate portfolio by refurbishing the railroad, which had been idle for 40 years.
The $20 million project, launched in 2017 and shut down in 2020 due to political hurdles and COVID-19 complications, could be a glimpse into Elon’s future, according to The New York Times, which published an in-depth look at the failed project on Saturday Musk’s Boring Company, described by The Wall Street Journal as “ghosting” major US cities by withdrawing from proposals to build tunnel systems.
The Boring Company, an infrastructure company that started as a subsidiary of SpaceX before it split in 2018, has pledged since its inception to build high-speed tunnels in major cities to reduce traffic and improve pedestrian access. It raised $657 million in Series C investments, giving the company a valuation of nearly $5.7 billion.
Since completing its research and development test tunnel in Hawthorne, California in 2018, The Boring Company has completed only one public-access project: a 1.7-mile loop connecting the Las Vegas Convention Center campus to its exhibit hall.
Plans for other tunnels — including projects in Los Angeles connecting Washington, DC to Baltimore and from Chicago Airport to downtown — have been scrapped by The Boring Company.
Los Angeles proposals to build tunnels under the congested 405 freeway and near Dodger Stadium were abandoned in 2018 and 2021, TechCrunch reported, after being criticized for “hastyness” by city council members.
The DC to Baltimore transit system, announced in 2017, was shut down in 2021 due to issues with environmental assessment procedures and permitting delays, The Washington Post reported.
In Chicago, a 2018 bid by The Boring Company to build high-speed tunnels to O’Hare Airport by June 2021 was dropped after public criticism of the lack of transparency surrounding the untested technology, the Chicago Business Journal reported .
“Every time I see him on TV with a new project or whatever, I’m like, oh, I remember that bullet train going to Chicago O’Hare,” reported the Wall Street Journal, city council member Scott Waguespack said of Chicago, and referred to Musk.
Former executives at The Boring Company say that given Musk’s strict leadership style, which includes 120-hour workweeks and sleeping on couches at its factories, the company is struggling to retain engineers and technical staff and expect the same from employees .
The Boring Company was formed after a series of apparent hoaxes Tweet 2016 sent by Musk in the wee hours of the morning, complaining about the traffic and promising to start digging tunnels.
—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2016
While reporters and consumers immediately questioned whether Musk was serious about founding The Boring Company, early advances in development silenced critics for several years.
Now, on his website, the only currently listed tunnel projects involve modifications to the Las Vegas Loop. It’s unclear if The Boring Company will make more bids for tunneling projects in the future or complete the planned Vegas Loop expansions.
On-line, criticism are Voice To ponder that the whole company a “Fraud” or “decoy tactics‘ which was ‘designed to propose automotive alternatives to mass transit projects’ and push the business towards his electric vehicle company Tesla.
Despite its failed plan to complete the Dumbarton Rail Bridge project, Facebook has continued with massive infrastructure projects, mostly in the form of acquiring and developing undersea cables.
The social media company, which has renamed Meta since cable development began and the bridge plan was scrapped, has acquired 6% of the world’s operating cable routes by 2022, according to Fair Internet Report, a market research firm. By the completion of the 2Africa infrastructure project, Meta will hold an interest in more than 13% of the world’s undersea cable infrastructure, spanning 33 countries and affecting 36% of the world’s population.
Though the future of The Boring Company’s tunnels remains unclear, Musk appears to continue trying to innovate existing infrastructure through his many deals — including plans to use Tesla’s energy storage technology to “relocate all of Earth’s energy and transportation infrastructure.” ,” Electrek, a transport intelligence agency, reports.
Representatives from Facebook and The Boring Company did not immediately respond to insiders’ requests for comment.