SYDNEY • Australia could become a test ground for another of Mr Elon Musk's massive infrastructure projects after the maverick billionaire tweeted a "bargain" price to build a tunnel through a mountain to solve Sydney's traffic woes.
Mr Musk in 2017 made a pitch on Twitter - and then the offer - to build what was the world's biggest battery in an Australian state to solve its severe energy crisis.
The co-founder of electric carmaker Tesla recently set his sights on tackling city traffic via low-cost tunnels created by his Boring Company, and in December unveiled a sample project near Los Angeles.
So when an Australian MP tweeted Mr Musk on Wednesday about the costs of drilling through a mountain range north of Sydney, he responded quickly.
"I'm a lawmaker in Sydney, which is choking with traffic. How much to build a 50km tunnel through the Blue Mountains and open up the west of our State?" Mr Jeremy Buckingham of New South Wales asked.
"About $15M/km for a two way high speed transit, so probably around $750M plus maybe $50M/ station," Mr Musk replied, with his response liked more than 22,000 times on Twitter.
He has more than 24 million followers on the social media platform.
Another billionaire, Mr Mike Cannon-Brookes, who founded Australian software start-up Atlassian, weighed in on the exchange, saying the estimated price tag "sounds like a bargain for Sydney".
The population of the Sydney region has grown by around 25 per cent since 2011 to reach 5.4 million, out of a national population of 25 million, and road congestion is a major concern.
There was no sign the exchange of tunnel tweets would lead to any action, but it could bring some positive publicity for the entrepreneur.
Mr Musk has risen to prominence with a series of ambitious ventures, particularly Tesla, but has also drawn plenty of criticism for instances of volatile behaviour.
He waged a public battle with a rescuer who helped save a group of boys trapped in a cave in Thailand last year, calling him a "pedo guy" after the Briton slammed his idea of a mini-submarine to save the children as a public relations stunt.
Meanwhile, riders who have tested out Boring's prototype tunnel - where cars are lowered by lifts then slotted into tracks and propelled along at high speeds - have complained of a bumpy journey.