Six years ago, SpaceX installed an above-ground tube in front of its Hawthorne headquarters, drawing excitement and intrigue from around town about Chief Executive Elon Musk’s latest experiment.
In the annual competition, engineers and students from all over the world is seeking to develop and test Musk’s proposed Hyperloop transportation technology, which promises to hurl passengers through tunnels in elevated, autonomous electric pods at more than 600 mph, cutting. trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco up to 35 minutes.
Today, there is no Hyperloop system in service. And after sitting idle for several years, the tube on Jack Northrop Avenue – which drew complaints about the road and pedestrian access, as well as the question of its purpose – has been removed, at the request of the city.
“The city has been very giving and very supportive of the venture that SpaceX has had,” said Hawthorne Councilwoman Angie Reyes English, who asked city staff to request that SpaceX remove the tube. “But ultimately, we have other businesses and other things that we have to consider, and give the streets back to the community.”
It remains unclear whether SpaceX or Musk’s tunneling business, Boring Co., will continue to develop Hyperloop technology. Bloombergwho first reported the removal of the Hawthorne tube this week, calling it “symbolic of a larger setback” and saying that the Hyperloop project “has no end in sight.”
Representatives for SpaceX and Boring Co. did not respond to requests for comment.
After the last student competition in summer 2019SpaceX appears to have abandoned operations in the nearly mile-long test tube, which collected dust and debris from nearby railroad tracks, as well as pine needles from trees that had not been trimmed in years due to lack of access, England said.
The pipeline took the eastbound lane toward Crenshaw Avenue, causing problems in the busy area. about traffic congestiondrivers traveling at freeway speeds and pedestrian safety.
In 2017, SpaceX built a pedestrian bridge connecting its offices to the parking structure after employees were struck by a vehicle while walking across Crenshaw Avenue, according to a daily wind report. The city supports the project, England said.
Alex Estrada, manager at Tow World on Jack Northrop Avenue, said he’s starting to worry about pedestrians being forced to walk across the street because of the tubes.
“It’s pretty much on everyone’s way,” he said.
After the SpaceX competition stopped, he and others began to question why the tubes were still there.
“I think they forgot about it, or just left it there,” Estrada said.
After the tube’s removal, the leftover barricade and some plastic cones remain, obstructing a path on Jack Northrop. A patch of asphalt that runs along the track has been turned into a parking lot, which the city did not approve, said English.
The councilor plans to remove the barricades and said he will look at options for parking enforcement in unauthorized areas.
“We just have to clean it up to make sure it’s safe and make sure it’s the right way,” English said.
English said he has a close working relationship with SpaceX and Boring Co., pointing to the jobs it creates and boosts the local economy.
When Boring Co. sought to build separate milelong tunnel under the neighborhood of Hawthorne to test its underground autonomous vehicle, England, along with the rest of the council, approved the project. But he encouraged the company to conduct more outreach to the community to inform residents about the project, which announced at the end of 2018.
Now, with the above-ground tube gone, English and others at City Hall are turning their attention to the underground tunnel, which runs through 120th Street.
Given Musk’s history of shelving tunnel projects, England isn’t sure whether the Hawthorne project is still going, he said.
Boring Co representative told City Atty. Robert Kim recently said this summer that the company is using the tunnel for development and research. It is necessary to fill the tunnel with concrete as soon as the project is completed, Kim said.
Kasturi had previously scrapped plans to build a tunnel under Sepulveda Boulevard on Westside in 2018 after alleged lawsuit that the city of Los Angeles violated state law when it sought to exempt the tunnel from environmental review.
More recently, Musk backed out of a tunnel project that would have transported riders from the Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink station to the Ontario International Airport. San Bernardino County transit officials plan to proceed with the project without him.
In Hawthorne, England has noticed a lack of activity at the entrance and exit from the underground tunnel boring Co. She plans to search and tour the site to confirm its operation.