Like many things these days, it all started with a tweet. In January 2021, eccentric entrepreneur Elon Musk tweeted a video of battery cell production jobs in Texas and Berlin, inviting the public to be a part of a “sustainable energy future”. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tweeted that he “couldn’t agree more” and invited the space cowboy to City Hall to discuss solutions.
Then Musk shared that he had spoken to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis the previous week about how the solution to Florida and Miami traffic troubles is tunnels — if they wanted in, “we will do it.”
Suarez called it a “no brainer.” Broward County’s leadership joined the chat; so did Fort Lauderdale’s. One month later, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis was in Las Vegas touring Musk’s Boring Co.’s construction on the Loop, a 28-mile circular the company says will cut down travel time from the convention center to the Mandalay Bay casino from 30 minutes to just three. The mayor was inspired to bring the idea back home, selling it as a way to cut down on travel from downtown to the beach – and perhaps beyond.
It’s all a part of the transportation puzzle as leaders try to figure out how to manage a never-ending boom in population, business and construction in Fort Lauderdale and beyond. Streets that were once easily navigable have become parking lots, and there are only plans for more people and their cars to arrive in the next decade. Meanwhile, away from Musk and Trantalis’ tunnel talk, a different tunnel debate rages. South Florida’s growing rail travel options are hindered by the outdated rail drawbridge over the New River – but possible solutions have the city potentially at odds with the county and state.