Erik Wright was thrilled when he got the news in 2016 that his business had been selected to help with an ambitious technology project: building the prototype tunnel for Elon Musk’s Hyperloop. The initiative was envisioned as a test run for a futuristic transportation system involving levitating pods hurtling through tubes at speeds of hundreds of miles per hour. Earlier this year, Wright got a text with an update on the tunnel: It was slated to be torn down.
The demise of the test tunnel — a roughly mile-long white cylinder running along Jack Northrop Avenue near the Space Exploration Technologies Corp. office in Hawthorne, California — is symbolic of a larger retreat. While Musk still says he wants to build a Hyperloop, the project has been indefinitely shelved. Musk did end up founding a tunnel-based company called Boring Co., but it falls short of levitation and jet-like speeds. Instead, at its transit system in Las Vegas, Teslas drive conference-goers through dedicated subterranean roads at a ho-hum pace.