Naming and art contest for Regional Connector TBM, which has arrived in DTLA

All this week, under the cover of darkness and the convenience of trafficless streets, large segments of the Regional Connector’s tunnel boring machine (TBM) have been delivered to a holding area near Little Tokyo.

Far too large to transport in one try, parts of the two million pound machine have made their way from Tacoma, Washington, to the Port of Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles each night this week. The dual-lane trailer loads receive a CHP escort and weave under and around bridges and overpasses, avoiding highways all together.


The most recognizable part of the TBM, its cutter head, arrived Thursday in the early morning hours. The cutter head and all its trailing components will rest in this DTLA staging yard until the TBM launch pit is fully excavated later this summer. By then, the TBM will have a name and art, created and voted on by the public — see the news release below.

Nightly shipments of the TBM are scheduled to finish by the end of April.

Metro Invites Students to Participate in Naming and Artwork Contest as new Regional Connector Tunnel Boring Machine arrives in Downtown LA

The tunnel boring machine (TBM) that will be used to dig twin underground tunnels for the Regional Connector Transit Project has arrived in downtown Los Angeles. 

The yet-to-be-named machine will sit in storage until the TBM launch pit is fully excavated this summer. Once tunneling begins, the TBM will begin digging the tunnel for the northbound tracks in Little Tokyo, be retrieved from under Flower Street and then re-launched in Little Tokyo to dig the tunnel for the southbound tracks.

Metro is inviting students from kindergarten through-12th grade to participate in a naming and illustration contest for the TBM.

The Tunnel Boring Art & Naming Contest is divided into two categories:

Students from Pre-K through 12th grade will compete to illustrate the new Regional Connector in their communities.

Students from Pre-K through 12th grade will compete to choose a name.

To participate in the illustration contest, students need to submit their drawings. For the naming contest, students must submit a 200-word essay or a two minute video. The prizes for both categories will be Metro TAP cards loaded with fare value of $300 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place.

Contest finalists will be chosen by a selection committee consisting of representatives from Metro, Regional Connector Constructors (RCC), local elected officials and the Regional Connector Community Leadership Council (RCCLC). The public also will be invited to vote amongst the contest finalists.

The winning name and illustration will be displayed on the side of the huge TBM machine during the lowering ceremony which is anticipated to happen in September 2016.

For further information on the naming and art contest visit Students will have until June 1 to submit entries by e-mail to or by mail to Regional Connector Project Office, Attn: TBM Contest, 432 E. Temple St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

The TBM was manufactured in Germany by Herrenknecht AG. It weighs 1000 tons, is 400 feet long and 21.5 feet in diameter. It will advance about 60 feet per day when digging and take about one year to excavate the two one-mile tunnels.

The Regional Connector Transit Project is a 1.9-mile underground 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. The Connector will provide a one-seat, one fare ride for commuters from Azusa to Long Beach and from East Los Angeles to Santa Monica.

12 replies

  1. TBM could be short for Tubman! With that in mind, I think the tunnel boring machine should be named Harriet to further honor the woman on the new $20 bill who so bravely operated a different kind of Underground Railroad.

    • Hi Paul, the Crenshaw TBM is already named Harriet, so having two Harriets might be slightly awkward. But if the name Tubman is nominated for Regional Connector machine, that’d be pretty cool!

      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source

  2. Gee, I wonder what was the name given to the tunneling machine used to drill the subway by the P.E. Oh, that’s right, they didn’t use a machine and completed it in seventeen months from start to finish including the twelve story Subway Terminal Building. How long have they been working on the “Connector” and still haven’t begun tunneling?

  3. How about Antonio, to commemorate Mayor Villaraigosa’s great job in leading the city towards a transit oriented future.

  4. Since this is digging under Little Tokyo, I originally thought of Simon the Digger (“This drill is the drill will pierce the heavens!”) but then I heard it had to be a female name.

    So then, Yoko. Tell the old folks it’s for Yoko Ono; the anime fans will know it’s for Simon’s partner Yoko Littner.

  5. Didn’t this TBM already have a name during the time that it was used to build the tunnel for the Gold Line Eastside Extension?

  6. Quite obviously, since the TBM is boring under Los Angeles, its name should be “Angel”.

  7. Expo Line Fan:

    Anna Chen replied on April 11, 2016:

    “This TBM is the same machine used on the Gold Line Eastside Extension. It was in Washington to be retooled and refurbished for the Regional Connector.”