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By  Kathryn Hardison  – Austin Business Journal

Elon Musk’s tunneling startup, The Boring Company, has been quietly planting roots in Central Texas for months. Now more details have surfaced about what the company is planning.

The Boring Co. was hiring for 20 positions in the Austin area by publication time, and a few job descriptions outlined future development plans for an autonomous tunnel boring machine. One posting also mentioned the company’s research and development site in Bastrop, about 30 miles southeast of Austin.

The mention of a Bastrop site is the first public recognition from the company that it has a location in the Austin area. Company officials previously announced hiring plans in Austin, but no further details have been shared.

No property records could be found with Bastrop Central Appraisal District or Bastrop County. Jeremy Morris, director of facilities and precast operations for The Boring Co., did not immediately return requests for comment.

The Boring Co. first grabbed space last year in Pflugerville, a suburb northeast of Austin, according to documents first reported by Austin Business Journal. Several filings with Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation link The Boring Co. to about 40,000 square feet in an industrial park off State Highway 130, though company officials haven’t confirmed the site.

Musk’s company constructs “low-cost transportation, utility and freight tunnels,” according to its website, with the goal to make transportation quicker and safer by creating a network of tunnels that alleviate traffic and congestion.

The job postings also add that the company’s goal is to decrease tunneling costs, make hyperloop adoption viable and enable rapid transit in densely populated areas.

The company has a test tunnel in Hawthorne, California, and recently completed a loop at the Las Vegas Convention Center.It’s unclear what a tunnel system could look like in Central Texas or if that’s even in the cards. The 1.7-mile loop at the Las Vegas Convention Center is said to reduce the 45-minute walk across the center’s campus to about two minutes. But instead of public use, Teslas are driven through the tunnel in a taxi fashion.

The $52.5 million project has drawn skepticism from tunnel engineering experts who doubt Musk’s company can bore tunnels faster and cheaper than ever before, according to NBC News.

The loop system also has seemed to fall short of Musk’s original plan to shuttle up to 4,400 passengers per hour in autonomous vehicles at 150 miles per hour. Business Insider reported that test riders at the loop in Las Vegas generally reached speeds of 40 miles per hour and the cars were driven by humans. Fire regulations may also limit capacity per hour to 1,200 people.

Proposed tunnels in cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles don’t appear to be in the plans anymore, NBC reported, though it seems a tunnel South Florida may be in the cards.

By publication time, the company had posted a job in the Austin area for a “Senior TBM Engineer,” a role that will include helping with “development and production of Prufrock, our next generation tunnel boring machine that will autonomously construct multiple tunnel miles per week.”

Prufrock is a machine designed by The Boring Co. to “porpoise,” meaning it launches from the surface, mines underground and re-emerges once it’s finished, according to the company’s website. It’s designed to tunnel faster than one mile per week, which is six times faster than the company’s previous machinery. The medium-term goal is to increase that to seven miles per day, according to its website.

“The Prufrock team creates the world’s fastest tunnel boring machines,” a job description states. “These machines will be responsible for creating thousands of miles of tunnel and making tunnels a viable method of transportation.”

The company is looking for people to test its tunnel boring machines. It’s also searching for a field mechanical engineer to work at a research and development site in Bastrop.

“You will spend 75% or more of your time in the field assembling parts, troubleshooting problems, and improving systems,” the job description stated. “One day you may spend the majority of your time in a tunnel and another you might sit at a desk making designs and manufacturing drawings.”

Some real estate experts have speculated that Musk may be planning a tunnel from the Tesla site to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, which is about a five-mile trek. Or the company could be planning to connect all of the Tesla-owned land east of Austin — 2,500-plus acres straddling State Highway 130 — where a $1.1 billion factory is under construction, some have said. Others have wondered if The Boring Co. is positioning itself to bid on Capital Metro’s Project Connect transit plan, which includes adding an underground tunnel downtown.

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Sairam Kota

Sairam is an experienced multifamily deal sponsor and asset manager for 738 units, a key principal in 332 units and limited partner in 1000 units. He has a strong experience in asset management, property reposition, income generation, implementing operational efficiencies and cost reduction. Sairam is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the state of Texas. He is a successful IT Consultant with 20+ years of experience in corporate America.