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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

As Elon Musk’s O’Hare Express Rail Inches Forward, Groups Asked To Weigh In On Its Logan Square Impact

State officials recently sent a letter to local preservation groups seeking consulting help.

This rendering shows the vehicle — called a "skate" — that will transport people between The Loop and O'Hare Airport as part of the Boring Company's high-speed transportation service.
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CHICAGO —  The O’Hare-to-Downtown high-speed rail project — led by billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk’s The Boring Company — is moving forward as it winds its way through the review phase.

The Illinois Department of Transportation recently sent a letter to local preservation groups, including Logan Square Preservation, inviting them to participate in an upcoming “Section 106 Consulting Party,” referring to section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

The Federal Highway Administration was selected as the lead federal agency on the project because the tunnel will likely travel under an interstate roadway. The agency is now undergoing an environmental review to ensure compliance with federal laws including the National Historic Preservation Act.

As part of the “consulting party,” preservation groups will be asked to weigh the impact the project would have on nearby historic properties.

“Consulting parties may be asked to provide information on historic properties in the project area, identify issues relating to the project’s potential effects on historic properties, and, if applicable, consult to resolve adverse effects to historic properties,” the letter reads.

A spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment. But according to the Daily Herald, officials were midway through the review process as of early December. The project will head to Chicago’s City Council for review next.

At the bottom of IDOT’s letter is a map of the proposed tunnel’s route.

The path, which is consistent with what the Tribune reported last year, starts at Randolph Street and then travels west under the Kennedy Expy., north under Halsted Street and northwest under Milwaukee Avenue. From there, it travels northwest under Elston Avenue and west on Bryn Mawr Avenue before crossing under the Kennedy again and continuing west to O’Hare.

The rail, called the Chicago Express Loop, would run in underground tunnels between O’Hare Airport and Block 37 in The Loop. Its passenger cars — called “skates” — would take an estimated 12 minutes to travel between the locations, according to the Boring Company’s website. The Boring Company has said the project will be completely privately funded.

The skates would travel 125-150 mph, hold eight to 16 passengers and offer WiFi, space for luggage and a climate-controlled cabin, according to the Boring Company. The skates would travel between the Loop and O’Hare Airport 20 hours of the day, seven days a week.

The project was formally announced this past June, though Musk had been eyeing the project for some time: He signaled that he was interested in the plan in June of 2017. Musk’s company is working on similar projects in Los Angeles, on the East Coast between several major cities and in Hawthorne, California.

Read IDOT’s letter below:

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