Crenshaw/LAX Rail Line Gets Help From Boring Harriet


Tunnel boring machine (Courtesy of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

Tunnel boring machine (Courtesy of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

Today, an earth boring machine dubbed “Harriet” was lowered into position to begin drilling tunnels linking three underground stations on the city’s new Crenshaw/LAX light rail line. Harriet will dig links between the Expo/Crenshaw station, the Martin Luther King Jr. station, and the Leimert Park Stations.

Tunnel boring machine (Courtesy of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

Tunnel boring machine (Courtesy of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

It’s part of Los Angeles’ two billion dollar project connecting the big airport, the Green Line, and El Segundo with Jefferson Park and the Purple Line west of downtown.  The length of the new rail line will be about 8½  miles.  Work has been underway for a little over three years, with at least three more to go.

You can read more about it in the mayor’s press release below.


Mayor Garcetti Marks Milestone in the Lowering of Tunnel Boring Machine For Crenshaw-LAX Line

Mayor Eric Garcetti today marked a milestone in the construction of the Crenshaw/LAX Line light-rail project, as “Harriet,” a massive machine that will excavate tunnels to connect three underground stations, was lowered during a celebration at the Expo construction yard.

“Today is about more about than just launching the tunnel boring machine, it is about the promise we have made to move our communities forward. This machine has been named Harriet, in honor of Harriet Tubman, because it represents progress and opportunity,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Second Vice Chair Eric Garcetti.“The Crenshaw/LAX Line will serve riders who have been historically under-served. And in doing so, it will ease congestion and will get Angelenos to the people and places they love.”

“I can think of no better way to kick off Black History Month than to name the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s tunnel boring machine after Harriet Tubman, legendary conductor of the Underground Railroad,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Mark Ridley-Thomas, who also awarded TAP Cards to student winners of the contest to name the TBM and create artwork that is prominently displayed on its tail shield. “I am confident that this marvel of engineering now known as ‘Harriet’ will carry on its namesake’s legacy of forging new paths to greater opportunities.”

The TBM will be lowered in segments and assembled in the next few weeks. Boring of the twin 1-mile tunnels is expected to last about 13 months, and when complete will connect three underground light rail stations: Crenshaw/Expo, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and Leimert Park.
“The ceremonial lowering of the tunnel boring machine marks an important milestone in the construction of this new light-rail line that will connect the communities of Crenshaw, Inglewood and LAX,” said Duarte Councilmember and Metro First Vice Chair John Fasana. “It enhances Metro’s rail system to offer more transportation options to commuters.”

“As we celebrate this exciting milestone for the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, we want to thank the business community along the alignment for its patience,” said City of Inglewood Mayor and Metro Board Director James T. Butts.

The tunnel boring machine (TBM) weighs 950 tons, has a diameter of 21 ½ feet, and is 400 feet long. Manufactured in Germany by Herrenknecht AG, the TBM will dig 60 feet per day. When the TBM reaches Leimert Park Station, it will be disassembled and returned to the Expo Yard — where it will be lowered again and launched to excavate the second tunnel.

“The progress we’re seeing today is only the first of many exciting milestones we’ll experience in 2016,” said LA Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington. “In March, the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension to Azusa will open and in late spring we will cut the ribbon on the Metro Expo Line extension to Santa Monica. These developments demonstrate that investment in transportation moves our County forward now and in the future.”

Naming of the TBM is a mining tradition that dates back centuries. Since the 1300s, Saint Barbara has been the patron saint of miners, protecting them when they are working underground. This homage to saints evolved into the commemorative naming of tunneling machines with a female name before the digging begins.

Tunnel boring machine (Courtesy of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

Tunnel boring machine (Courtesy of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

Wayne

Author: Wayne

Wayne is the editor of the Los Angeles Architecture Blog. He has degrees in journalism and communication, and spent 20 years as a professional broadcaster as a reporter, anchor, producer, and news director.

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