LaHood: O’Hare Express was ‘pipe dream,’ good thing project all but dead
Elon Musk’s plan to build a “Tesla-in-atunnel” high-speed transit system between downtown and O’Hare Airport was a “pipe dream” from the get-go and it’s a good thing that project is dead, former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Friday.
Three months ago, a delegation of city officials returned home after a California test ride more convinced than ever that Musk’s plan to whisk passengers between downtown and O’Hare in 12 minutes in exchange for a $25 one-way fare would be “transformational.”
At the time, Deputy Mayor Bob Rivkin, a former top aide to LaHood in the U.S. Department of Transportation, was the project’s biggest cheerleader. Rivkin said then he hoped to have a final contract hammered out with Musk in time to present it to the City Council before Mayor Rahm Emanuel left office. Rivkin has since accepted a top job with United Airlines.
But that was before mayoral candidates started dumping on the O’Hare Express project and before the most critical of all — Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle — advanced to the runoff.
Now, the project that Emanuel talked dreamily about when he stood with Musk last summer at Block 37 is all but dead.
“I’m not surprised at all. It’s very expensive. It’s complicated. The environmental impact statement that would have to be done on that will take years. And it would take a real commitment from a mayor to make it happen. I don’t see it happening,” LaHood said.