Tesla CEO Musk Says Getting Rockets into Orbit is Easier Than Navigating 405 Freeway; Offers More Money For Highway Widening Project


Experiencing stop-and-go traffic on a daily basis is, let’s say, frustrating.  We could certainly say more, but our PG rating here would be in jeopardy if we continue to rant.

Musk Commutes Between Bel Air and Hawthorne (Marked With Red Dots on Map--Click to Enlarge)

Musk Commutes Between Bel Air and Hawthorne (Marked With Red Dots on Map–Click to Enlarge)

For Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, the congestion on California’s Interstate 405 is so irritating that he’s willing to pay to fix it.

As Musk told the Los Angeles Times:

“The 405 … varies from bad to horrendous..It just seems people in Los Angeles are being tortured by this.… I don’t know why they aren’t marching in the streets.”

Musk commutes daily on the 405.  There’s no other reasonable option to get from his home in Bel Air, CA down to the site of his other current endeavor: SpaceX in Hawthorne, CA.

The state of California is working to solve the congestion issue on Interstate 405 with a widening project, but it’s been delayed and the Interstate is a mess at this point in time.

Musk himself already threw $50,000 of his own money into the widening project, but with the completion date is now pushed back to Fall of 2014, Musk says he’s ready to pay out more cash.

Musk Says It's easier to Explore Space Than to Commute to Work

Musk Says It’s easier to Explore Space Than to Commute to Work

Musk stated:

“…as a contribution to the city and my own happiness. If it can actually make a difference, I would gladly contribute funds and ideas. I’ve super had it.”

Back in July, Musk met with David Murphy, the man who heads Angelenos Against Gridlock.  The group is, among other things, trying to speed the 405 widening project, so Musk gladly offered up $50,000 to assist in the efforts, but that doesn’t appear to have been enough.  The project remains way behind schedule and hugely ($100 million) over budget.

How bad is Musk’s daily commute?  Well, as he says, it’s easier getting rockets into orbit than navigating his daily commute.  We doubt that’s even remotely close to true, but it at least provides us with a glimpse into how bad the congestion is on the 405.  It’s a shame too because Musk can’t exploit the potential of his Model S in the bumper-to-bumper grind.

via LA Times

Category: Tesla


8 responses to "Tesla CEO Musk Says Getting Rockets into Orbit is Easier Than Navigating 405 Freeway; Offers More Money For Highway Widening Project"
  1. vdiv says:

    In related news InsideEVs’ new name is now MNN


    He doesn’t have to get a rocket in orbit, just use a Grasshopper and hop to werk and back. It may be cheaper that widening I-405.

    1. kdawg says:

      I’m surprised he doesn’t take a helicopter. Tony Stark would.
      Maybe he needs to design an electric one, or some kind of electric jet-pack.
      It’s 2013, where’s my flying car?

      1. ClarksonCote says:

        Your flying car is right here…


        … sort of. 😉

  2. alohart says:

    We can’t continue widening highways and streets to accommodate more and more vehicles. There’s just not enough room for so many vehicles, most of which contain only 1 person. Transportation and worksite alternatives must be offered. When the pain of commuting by single-occupant car becomes too great, some workers will use alternate transportation, relocate closer to their worksites, or demand telecommuting opportunities. Continuing to waste money increasing the capacity of highways and streets will never solve the problem.

    1. Phoenix says:

      +1 Alohart. Why no light rail for that heavily traveled corridor still?

  3. Cavaron says:

    Couldn’t he just build some rails and a tram? Would have an electric motor at least.

  4. Priusmaniac says:

    Remember the sentence the sky is the limit. Well apply that to the 405, build a freeway on top of the freeway. It is routine in Tokyo, so why not in LA. If that is not enough build up more, the sky is the limit. If you want to make it more effective keep the trucks on the ground and send the cars skywards. EV’s could actually go underground since they don’t release combustion gases, there is no need for huge ventilation, a soft breeze will do.

  5. Transportation of the future says:

    It’s possibly not so relevant to most, but just to point out the facts: Though “Musk himself already threw $50,000 of his own money into the widening project” says otherwise, none of Musk’s money is used to widen the highway.

    See this link:
    Elon Musk Didn’t Exactly Give $50k to Speed Up 405 Widening

    To wrap it up: Musk gave the $50,000 to the group called “Angelenos Against Gridlock”, see

    Probably it would be too much to ask from an electric car maker to support something else than car infrastructure, but it’s kind of sad to see this push towards expanding more highways in the L.A. basin. Los Angeles is evidence that one cannot build oneself out of this situation. Most will realize, that Los Angeles should have more public transport, ever-expanding highways is not possible because of limited space and thus not the answer.

    Highways usually experience a chaotic breakdown in flow and a dramatic drop in speed (colloquially known as a traffic jam) if they exceed about 2,000 vehicles per hour per lane (each car roughly two seconds behind another). Since the average car occupancy is only about 1.2 people per car there is a maximum observed capacity of about 2,400 passengers per hour per lane.

    By contrast, light rail vehicles offer a ridership of up to 20,000 passengers per hour in much narrower rights-of-way, not much more than two car lanes wide for a double track system.

    This means, a two track light rail line, roughly as wide as two car lanes, can transport roughly as many people as a highway with 8 lanes in each direction, so 16 lanes in total. This shows how ineffective highways are, when it comes to transporting people.

    This is for light rail (like L.A.’s Blue, Green, Expo or Gold Line). Heavy rail (like L.A.’s Red or Purple Line) can transport up to 50,000 passengers per hour. It’s such an effective way to move people around.

    Especially the corridor Musk is travelling in every day, the I-405 corridor, desperately needs rail. It’s funny, as the Green Line Crenshaw stop is only less than 1000 feet away from Space x in Hawthorne, so if there was rail along I-405 that is connected to the current Green Line (possibly as a one-seat ride), Musk could take Metro rail from a stop in the Bel Air area right to the door steps of his company. Of course probably he never would, even when it is completed, as he has to showcase his own product as the CEO of a car company. Still, it would be cool if at least he advocated for it, instead of advocating for ever-more highway lanes, which will never be able to keep up with the population growth. It will always be congested, but rail would provide an effective alternative so people could still get from A to B without sitting in traffic for hours every week.

    Even though Musk gave to the Angelinos Against Gridlock, there are luckily also other organizations, who actually wanna advocate for more public transportation. One can still support those, not only at the national level, like the Sierra Club (also supporting electric cars), but specifically in the Los Angeles area.

    Some organisations for this specific region are:
    – The Transit Coalition http://thetransitcoalition.us
    – Southern California Transit Advocates http://socata.net
    – Mobility 21 http://mobility21.com
    and – Move LA http://movela.org

    And recently there were exciting news: The LA Mayoral Candidates expressed support for I-405 corridor light rail, one even thinks it needs to be heavy rail. See here:


    It is great to see so much support for electric vehicles and public transportation, now it only would be even greater to see things to continue to move forward that way in Los Angeles.