LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A proposal being talked about could create a new way you get around Louisville — using an underground tunnel.
The city of Louisville is no stranger to tunnels. You’ve got the Cochran Hill Tunnels on I-64 and the East End Bridge tunnel. There’s even an underground storm water tunnel that Metro Sewer District put into service in June.
Now, there’s talk of a new underground tunnel. The State Fair Board said it recently presented the results of a facility and land study to state lawmakers of the Interim Joint Committee Appropriations and Revenue. The board kept hearing about connectivity between their properties from clients.
“We have clients that have grown to a point that they use both facilities at the same time. As we looked at other cities and as we studied the opportunity to do that, instead of always using busses and police escorts, the tunnel seems to be a possible solution. So, we’re looking at tunnels as an opportunity. That’s mentioned in our proposal. That would require additional study and evaluation of the merits as well as the return on the investment.” David Beck, president and CEO of the Kentucky Venues, explained.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner and candidate for governor, Ryan Quarles tweeted, in part, that “a tunnel project that will connect Jefferson County, reduce traffic congestion, and will expand our tourism opportunities.”
According to Quarles’ tweets, the project would, “connect Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, Kentucky Expo Center, University of Louisville Churchill Downs and downtown Louisville, including Kentucky International Convention Center, 4th Street Live, and other assets.”
Beck explained the exposition center concept.
“We can put a tunnel underneath Phillips lane. That allows use of both sides of the property, without having to close the street. That’s something people have asked for and talked about.” Beck explained.
Now, in terms of the concept, Quarles tweeted that transportation can be provided by autonomous vehicles or with human drivers.
There is a similar existing tunnel in Las Vegas, Nevada, which Beck has ridden through. “It was exciting!” Beck said. “It’s quick, fast, convenient. It’s safe. All the things you look for. The lighting was great.”
Beck said it would give access to hotels, restaurants and other attractions. He also says the tunnels would be used not just for conventions, but for all day use. In terms of this potential project, he’s very excited and optimistic. Beck said they’ve had conversations with at least two companies that are interested in pursuing the project.
The tunnels are a transit concept from Elon Musk's Boring Company. The Wall Street Journal reported the tunnel venture has repeatedly courted local officials with a pledge to remedy"soul-destroying traffic," only to back out time after time.
One of Quarles' tweets also says additional study would be needed to analyze cost, capacity and return-on-investment.