Hawthorne-based Boring Co. on Feb. 3 gained approval from the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority to enter into exclusive negotiations with the agency over its proposal to build a 4-mile tunnel loop that would connect Ontario International Airport with a Metrolink station in Rancho Cucamonga.

Boring Co., which was established five years ago by billionaire and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. founder Elon Musk with the goal of building tunnel systems to major destinations, was the only company to respond to the transit authority’s request for proposals for the project.

The plan for an underground transit loop connecting the Ontario airport with the Metrolink train network has emerged as a much cheaper and quicker alternative to the $1 billion-plus plan to extend the Foothill Gold Line from a planned terminus in Montclair (in San Bernardino County) to the airport.

Rising construction costs forced the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority in late 2019 to indefinitely postpone its planned extension to Montclair, however. The line is currently slated to end in Pomona.

Boring Co. plans to use its advanced tunnel boring technology to complete the tunnel loop construction in about one year at a projected cost of roughly $85 million.

Once the tunnel construction is complete, Boring Co. proposes to use modified Tesla vehicles to shuttle up to 12,000 people per day between the airport and the Metrolink station.

The loop could be operational by the middle of this decade, according to San Bernardino County Transportation Authority officials.

“The Ontario Airport Loop project represents an innovative, cost-effective and sustainable approach in meeting the mobility needs of one of the most robust population and economic centers in the United States,” Curt Hagman, chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and a champion of the project, said in a statement.

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