Tongue firmly in cheek, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti yesterday welcomed the media and special guests to a very “boring” event…the unveiling of new tunnel boring machines (TBMs) that have just arrived from Germany to begin creating the tunnels for the new Purple Line subway extension.
The ceremony included brief speeches from the Mayor and City Council District 4 representative David Ryu, lauding the efforts of Metro and other civic supporters of the Purple Line Extension project, which is now about 34% complete and on schedule to open in 2023. Yesterday’s ceremonies also included a flag presentation by Metro’s honor color guard, performances by music students from Marlborough School, and the announcement of the winners of the contests to name the two new TBMs, and to create artwork that will adorn the machines and other promotional items.
The winning names for the twin TBMs came from Marianne Gutierrez, a freshman at Fairfax High School, who suggested “Elsie” and “Soyeon,” to honor two pioneering women in STEM fields – Elsie Eavers, the first female to be elected as a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers…and Yi Soyeon, the first Korean to fly in space.
The winner of the contest to create art that celebrates the Purple Line project was Lauren Park, a 3rd grader at Palm Crest Elementary School in La Canada Flintridge. Her illustration (above) will adorn the TBMs, and is also featured on a special Purple Line commemorative TAP card.
The new TBMS will be inserted underground through an opening at Wilshire and La Brea, and will then begin tunneling east toward Western. When they reach Western, the machines will be removed, transported back to La Brea, and reinserted below ground to begin their journey westward toward Fairfax and La Cienega.
Here are some images from yesterday’s festivities: