L.A. Metro Celebrates Ceremonial Naming, Lowering of Tunnel Boring Machine

Oct. 19, 2016
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) recently joined elected officials and community stakeholders in Little Tokyo at the ceremonial naming and lowering of a segment of the tunnel boring machine (TBM)

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) recently joined elected officials and community stakeholders in Little Tokyo at the ceremonial naming and lowering of a segment of the tunnel boring machine (TBM) that will dig twin 1.1-mile underground rail tunnels under downtown Los Angeles. Excavation work will begin in January.

“This is a major milestone toward the completion of a vital project that truly connects the region by providing a one-seat ride to downtown Los Angeles for users of the Blue, Gold and Expo lines,” said Metro Board Chair and Duarte City Council Member John Fasana. “The Regional Connector will reduce travel times for many Metro Rail riders and make our system much more convenient and attractive to those who want a transit alternative to driving.”

At the event Board Chair Fasana awarded TAP Cards to students who won contests to name the TBM and create an illustration for its tail shield. The winning name “Angeli” was submitted by 8th grade student Windsor McInerny, who previously attended Will Rogers Middle School. The winning illustration was by Alexander Li, a senior at Adolfo Camarillo High School in Ventura County.

“The regional connector is a huge step toward our overarching transportation goal for Los Angeles County. By tying together all of our lines to create a truly interconnected system, residents and tourists alike can easily and quickly get from Claremont to LAX, Torrance to Chatsworth, and everywhere in between. Angeli’s work in Downtown will ease congestion and streamline trips for commuters across the region.”

The $1.55-billion Regional Connector Transit Project is a 1.9-mile underground light-rail tunnel that will connect the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines in downtown Los Angeles and will include three new stations at 1st Street/Central Avenue, 2nd Street/ Broadway and 2nd Place/Hope Street. The rail line is expected to serve 88,000 riders daily – including 17,000 new riders – and save commuters up to 20 minutes by reducing the need to transfer when traveling to and through downtown L.A. Construction is expected to be complete in 2021.

“As this project moves ahead, we remain committed to the residents and businesses who have been impacted during construction,” said Metro Board Member and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis. “Metro remains resolute in our efforts to offer programs to the community such as the Business Interruption Fund and Eat, Shop, Play that provide marketing assistance to small mom and pop businesses in the area.”

“As we begin the tunnel boring process for the Metro Regional Connector, we’re reminded of the massive scale of this project and that innovation always requires a willing public to make it happen,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar. “With each subsequent foot forward we are digging toward a future that Angelenos want – one that allows them to effortlessly crisscross the region, with Downtown Los Angeles, the heart of our City, representing the intersection of progress.”

“The Regional Connector is a game changer for the entire region by connecting three light rail lines that already have more than 170,000 weekday boardings,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “Measure R played a pivotal role in funding this project and helped us secure a federal grant and loan to build the infrastructure that will be enjoyed by generations to come.”  

Naming of the TBM is a mining tradition that dates back to the 14th century. Saint Barbara, the patron saint for military engineers and miners, has been revered by underground workers as a symbol of protection and good luck for centuries. This homage evolved into the tradition of giving tunneling machines a female name before digging begins.

First place winners received a $300 Metro TAP Card and $175 in local community prizes. Second place winners received a $200 Metro TAP card and third place winners received a $100 Metro TAP card.

In partnership with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board Member Monica Garcia, the TBM Naming & Art Contest was divided into two categories: Students from preschool/Kindergarten through 12th grade submitted original drawings illustrating the new Regional Connector line in their ideal communities and students from preschool/Kindergarten through 12th grade submitted original essays proposing names for the TBM.                                                                                          

The TBM was manufactured in Germany by Herrenknecht AG. It weighs approximately 1,000 tons, is 450 feet long and is 21.5 feet in diameter. It will advance about 60 feet per day once digging begins and will take 16 to 18 months to excavate the twin 1.1-mile tunnels.

“Angeli” will begin its journey from the northeast corner of 1st and Alameda streets. The TBM will first dig the tunnel for the northbound tracks until it reaches 4th and Flower streets. From there, the TBM will be retrieved from underground and returned to Little Tokyo, where it will be re-launched to excavate the southbound tunnel.

Metro has contracted with Regional Connector Constructors, a joint venture between Skanska USA Civil West California District, Inc., and Traylor Brothers, Inc., to design and build the Regional Connector Transit Project.