Tunneling May Be an Option Worth Digging Into

June 8, 2020

Last month, the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority’s (SBCTA) Transit Committee took action to recommend that the Board of Directors place a hold on the Rail Access to Ontario International Airport (ONT) Alternatives Analysis (AA) while SBCTA staff further examines the innovative solution of tunneling as a method for connectivity to the airport. The committee action was predicated by elements offered in an unsolicited proposal submitted by The Boring Company (TBC) for constructing a tunnel from ONT to a spot along the Metrolink San Bernardino Line as a public transit link to the airport. On June 3, the SBCTA Board of Directors voted unanimously to support this recommendation.

The proposal introduced by TBC drew attention to significant cost and time saving potential by providing information previously unavailable to the transportation community. The savings were compelling enough for staff to advance an item to the Board of Directors to consider postponing the release of the Request for Proposals for the AA.

While on face value the TBC proposal appears to be more advanced than traditional connections, the approach of a subterranean tunnel would be new for the region. Therefore, staff requested additional time to determine the viability of tunneling as a path for creating a connection to ONT. The Board of Directors directed that staff return in September with a determination of that viability.

If the concept holds true, the Board will consider initiation of a competitive procurement process. If staff does not confirm the viability of tunneling, the procurement for the AA will resume.

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