By Gaige Davila
A company founded by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is proposing to build a tunnel between Isla Blanca Park and Boca Chica Beach, in an apparent solution to Highway 4’s recurring closures.
The Boring Company met with Cameron County officials last month proposing the tunnel, which would be the third the company has built since it was founded in 2016.
“They’re just looking at concepts, there’s nothing concrete,” Cameron County Administrator Pete Sepulveda, Jr., who oversees all major transportation projects in the county, said.
“I believe the county is non committal. If there’s a way to provide access to the beach and it’s good for the public then the county is going to support that.”
The Boring Company is suggesting either a tunnel, a bridge or a ferry system from the end of Isla Blanca Park to the north end of Boca Chica Beach, both of which are county owned parks. Each option would take significant analysis and planning, Sepulveda said, whether the county has any involvement or not.
As of now, Cameron County has no intent to pay for the project, he said. The Boring Company representatives did not provide a potential cost estimate for the project. A tunnel built in Las Vegas by The Boring Company cost around $48.7 million, according to a report by TechCrunch.
Sepulveda said the Boring Company is suggesting this other form of transportation to Boca Chica Village so the beach can remain open regardless if Highway 4, the lone road to SpaceX’s Boca Chica facility, is closed. Sepulveda said the county won’t support whatever form of access isn’t for the public.
SpaceX and Cameron County, who is the lone authority for closing Highway 4, have been criticized by local activists and Laguna Madre, Brownsville area residents for closing off Boca Chica Beach, a public park, routinely, particularly during weeks before a test launch. SpaceX is now preparing for a suborbital launch sometime this year, pending an environmental review by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Sepulveda said because the presentation the county was provided was brief, there’s no telling whether a tunnel underground is feasible. The Brazos Santiago Pass, the body of water between Isla Blanca Park and Boca Chica Village, is a ship channel, meaning the tunnel would need to be bored deep underground to avoid scrapings from tanker traffic.
“The depth that it’s going to be required is quite a bit, and I don’t know if that’s feasible or not,” Sepulveda said. “It left us with a lot of questions.”
Sepulveda said The Boring Company hasn’t said when it will return to discuss these potential projects.