Elon Musk is supes annoyed with LA’s atrocious traffic and wants to dig a tunnel under it all. It’s true that getting around Los Angeles is a pain, but this is a tremendously stupid idea. Not because tunnels are expensive (true), or because he’d need a pile of permits to start boring (also true), but because his harebrained scheme won’t actually help.
I am actually going to do this
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 17, 2016
Exciting progress on the tunnel front. Plan to start digging in a month or so.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 25, 2017
“I really do think tunnels are the key to solving urban gridlock,” the Tesla and SpaceX CEO told The Verge. He is wrong.
A tunnel wouldn’t reduce traffic. Nor would a new highway, or five new highways. Blame the law of induced demand, which says the more roads you build, the more people come out to use them. As Gilles Duranton and Matthew A. Turner write in The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities, “[Vehicle-kilometers traveled] increases proportionately to roadway lane kilometers for interstate highways.” In other words, mo’ tunnel, mo’ traffic.
Unless, of course, Musk is talking about digging a private tunnel. That would work just fine, but even he can’t be that megalomaniacal. Can he?
(We’ve reached out to Musk and will update if/when he responds.)