The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees transportation in the city, including the Municipal Railway (Muni), today announced that the public may vote online to name the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that will excavate and construct the Central Subway tunnels.
The TBMs will be named after historic San Francisco women. An online poll commenced Friday and will continue until Jan. 23. Voters can select up to two names from the following options: Big Alma, Juana, Mom Chung, Firebelle Lil and Mary Ellen.
To vote, please visit www.centralsubwaysf.com/TBM-name.
In tunneling tradition, the custom of naming TBMs is believed to bring good luck to tunneling projects. The names will remain in official use by the SFMTA and the tunneling contractor as the TBMs excavate and construct the Central Subway’s northbound and southbound tunnels, traveling from SoMa through Union Square, Chinatown and North Beach.
“The TBMs will be named after prominent pioneering women who have shaped our City’s rich and historic past, just as the Central Subway will help shape San Francisco’s innovation future,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “We are excited to involve the people of San Francisco in this fun and important tunneling tradition,” said Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “We are excited to involve the people of San Francisco in this fun and important part of tunneling tradition.”
“The Central Subway will connect San Francisco’s diverse communities, significantly improving transportation along some of our busiest, most populated and fastest growing corridors,” said SFMTA Board of Directors Chairman Tom Nolan. “By naming the TBMs after trailblazing San Francisco women, we are honoring the city’s exciting history while contributing to its outstanding future.”
Fabrication of the TBMs takes approximately a year. The TBMs are expected to arrive in San Francisco in March. Each TBM consists of a rotating cutter wheel (the cutter head), a cylindrical steel shell (the shield) and a 300-foot train of tunnel-building mechanisms (the trailing gear). The TBMs will arrive in several parts, to be assembled at the site on 4th Street between Harrison and Bryant streets where tunneling will begin later this year.
The public may vote to name the TBMs after these historic San Francisco women:
“Big Alma” de Bretteville Spreckels (1881-1968): Known as "Big Alma" (she was 6 feet tall) and "The Great-Grandmother of San Francisco,” Alma de Bretteville Spreckels was a wealthy socialite and philanthropist who, among her many accomplishments, persuaded her first husband, sugar magnate Adolph B. Spreckels, to fund the design and construction of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, at Land’s End in San Francisco. A model in her youth, Spreckels was the inspiration for the “Victory” statue atop the Dewey Monument in the center of Union Square.
Juana Briones (1802-1889): A talented farmer, rancher, healer and businesswoman, Juana Briones was one of the first women to own land in California and one of the first residents of San Francisco in its early days, when it was called Yerba Buena. In 1835 she fled her abusive husband and settled with her seven children in what is now North Beach. There she raised cattle and sold produce to provide for her family. She also worked as a healer, assisting sick and deserted sailors in this new frontier town. A plaque commemorating her contribution to the city can be found in Washington Square Park.