Crenshaw/LAX Line’s TBM is named ‘Harriet’

And the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s tunnel boring machine’s name is….Harriet, as in Harriet Tubman, the former slave and key player in the Underground Railroad that helped slaves escape the south for the north. The name was revealed at a news event this morning at the the sits where the TBM will eventually be lowered into the ground on the southeast corner of Exposition and Crenshaw boulevards.

The TBM will be used to excavate the twin one-mile tunnels at the northern end of the new rail line. The segment that will include three underground stations: Crenshaw/Expo, Martin Luther King Jr. and Leimert Park.

The TBM will be lowered by segments and then will be assembled underground in the next few weeks. Tunnel boring is expected to last approximately 13 months. and will connect three underground light rail stations: Crenshaw/Expo, Martin Luther King Jr. and Leimert Park.

The TBM weighs 950 tons and has a diameter of 21 ½ feet and is 400 feet long. 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.

Naming of the TBM is a mining tradition that dates back to early times. Since the 14th Century, 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.

The winner of the naming contest is Calvin Mosley, an 11th grade student from City Honors High School in Inglewood. Calvin proposed using Harriet Tubman, who was an African-American abolitionist and humanitarian. Born into slavery, Tubman escaped and subsequently made some 13 missions to rescue approximately 70 enslaved family and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. Calvin’s proposal received 36.11 percent of the vote in this category.

The winner of the TBM artwork contest is Brittany Hernandez, a third grader from Dr. Lloyd Owen Knox Elementary School in Los Angeles. Brittany’s artwork received 43.57 percent of the vote in the art category.

The top three naming contest winners were: Calvin with 36 percent of the vote; Austin Tebson of West Angeles CDC Young n Bloom for “Eleanor” (as in Eleanor Roosevelt) with 30 percent of  the vote, and; Lauryn Brown of Inglewood High School for “Sojourner” (as in Sojourner Truth) with 13 percent of the vote.

The three artwork finalists were: Brittany Hernandez; third-grader Jazmin Zepeda, and; third-grader Johnny Barrera. All three students are from Dr. Lloyd Owen Knox Elementary School in Los Angeles.

Metro invited students from kindergarten through fifth grade to create an illustration of the TBM and students from sixth through 12th grade to write a 200-word essay proposing a name for the TBM. Prizes for both categories are TAP cards loaded with fare value of $300, $200 or $100.

Metro received more than 230 essay and artwork submissions. Over 50,000 votes were received online.

The photos shown above and other pics are available for download from our Flickr site. You can also watch the event on Periscope.

About Crenshaw/LAX Line

The 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Line is a $2.058-billion light rail line that will run between the Green Line and the Expo Line. It will have eight new stations to serve the Crenshaw, Inglewood and LAX communities. It is expected to open in 2019.

For more information on the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project go to or join us on Facebook at and on Twitter at or call the project hotline (213) 922-2736.

7 replies

  1. Will the tunnel boring machines (TBMs) for the Regional Connector and the Purple Line extension also be given names?

  2. In the opening paragraph, quotes should be used around “Underground Railroad” (or it should be prefaced with “so-called.”) The network to help escaped slaves which is associated with Harriet Tubman was not actually a railroad, and it wasn’t under ground.