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LVCVA president: Work on underground Vegas Loop could begin within year

Work on the highly-anticipated Vegas Loop underground transportation system likely will begin within a year now that Clark County has approved the Boring Co.’s plans.

Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority President and CEO Steve Hill noted the year goal but said there are still numerous steps to be taken before Prufrock, Boring’s latest excavating machine, heads underground to start digging the main tunnel.

“It will be a rollout over time,” Hill said. “The tunneling process itself is probably the quickest part of the construction. They’ve improved boring machines to the point that it will take longer to build a station itself than the tunnel to get to it.… Within a year I would hope that we will be under construction with portions of the main system and we could continue to expand from there.”

Boring plans to dig the tunnel and add ramps to each destination as it goes along, but crews could go back later and extend the tunnel to a property that is not part of the initial route.

The Elon Musk-owned company’s initial plans call for 51 stations from downtown Las Vegas, through the Resort Corridor and to UNLV, with stops at Allegiant Stadium and a few off-Strip properties. Hill expects the number of stations will exceed 51 over time.

Passengers will be transported around the valley via Tesla model vehicles, similar to the Convention Center Loop system already in operation.

Above ground stations

Hill said the majority of the stations will be located above ground as they are less expensive to build than stations below ground. The large underground station of the Las Vegas Convention Center Loop cost about $40 million, Hill said.

“Not too many stations will be built like this one,” Hill said Wednesday, standing in the central station. “This is a pretty expensive process and we’ve learned that surface stations work great.”

There are various options for stations, Hill said, noting that some properties could choose to have the tunnel system link to their parking garages or porte-cocheres.

“At Allegiant Stadium I think you could see ramps coming out of the ground into the surface parking lot and you’ll be able to get out of those cars right in that lot and walk right into the stadium,” Hill said. “Lots of different options. Each property will go through a process of figuring out what makes more sense for them.”

There are two stations planned at Allegiant Stadium, one on the east side and one on the south side.

Hill said the tunneling process to connect Resorts World with the convention center is underway. He said the Westgate has expressed interest in connecting with the convention center and there already are plans to link the convention center and the Encore resort.

The current plan doesn’t include a stop at McCarran International Airport, but Hill said there have been discussions with airport officials about adding a station.

“So, we’re working through that process, working with the airport,” he said. “I think they will tell you they love the idea of the system there. It makes a bunch of sense and we certainly almost know that will happen in the future.”

57,000 people per hour

The point-to-point nature makes the Vegas Loop an attractive option, as customers can go from their pick up point directly to their final destination without stopping in between.

“There aren’t traffic lights, there are no stop signs, there are no stations you have to stop at along the way,” Hill said. “It makes the trip really convenient and really quick and will allow our guests and our visitors to experience everything Vegas has (to offer) in a really fun and efficient way.”

At full buildout, the Vegas Loop is expected to be able to handle about 57,000 people per hour, Boring President Steve Davis said at Wednesday’s Clark County Commissioners meeting.

Hill said Boring has committed to keeping fares “between what it costs to ride a bus and what it costs to ride an Uber or Lyft. So, maybe $5, maybe $20 at a maximum.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, Davis provided a pair of fare examples with one showing a 3.6-mile ride from the convention center to Allegiant Stadium costing $5.

With parking at Allegiant Stadium and other major event venues a chore at times, Hill said parking off site and then taking the loop to and from an event could be a game changer.

“It’ll be easier to park in downtown and go to a game than it will to be parked down the street (from Allegiant) and walk to a game,” Hill said.

Aside from the system’s potential traffic benefits, Hill believes the loop itself will become an attraction.

“We’re going to be the first in the nation, the first in the world, with this kind of system,” he said. “People are really just going to try it out just for the fun of trying it out. It will really make the (tourism) experience so much better.”

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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