Purple Line Extension tunneling machines on high seas en route to United States

Parts of the Purple Line Extension’s tunnel boring machine getting prepped for shipping in Germany.

Manufactured by Herrenknecht in Schwanau, Germany the two tunnel boring machines that will dig the twin tunnels for the Purple Line Extension are currently on their way to America. They weigh 1,000 tons each and will be shipped on two cargo vessels, the Palabora and the Integrity, later this month.

The TBMs are due to arrive mid-December and will be stored in Riverside, California, until the Wilshire/La Brea station is ready to receive them.

Over the past few months, Metro invited students from Los Angeles County to participate in the Purple Line Extension Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) Art and Naming Contest. The contest has already received a wide variety of submissions from students ranging from Kindergarten through 12th grade.

The contest is currently open and will close Friday, November 17.

Once all the submissions have been received, a selection committee made up of community influencers will select the finalists. The committee includes Mike Aparicio, Executive Vice President of Skanska; Beverly Hills Mayor, Lili Bossee; Los Angeles Council Member David Ryu; Koreatown Youth + Community Center Manager Rick Kim, and; LACMA Education Coordinator Albert Valdez.

Once the finalists have been selected, the public will be invited to cast their vote in support of the art and naming contest winners that best capture the Purple Line Extension Project.

The Purple Line Extension project is being constructed in three sections. The first section, which is under construction, is 3.9 miles from Wilshire/Western to Wilshire/La Cienega with new stations at Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega. The first section is projected to open in late 2023.

Follow the Purple Line Extension on Twitter and Facebook. Follow the Purple Line Extension TBMs journey into the Earth on Twitter @PurpleLineTBMs.

Categories: Projects

12 replies

  1. Why does the MTA keep buying new tunneling machines when they could just use the old ones that were used on another project. Are they still tunneling under Crenshaw? Our they still tunneling under downtown L.A. for the redundant connection? No money for better bus service. No money to build the needed east-west Santa Monica Bl corridor light rail but a abundance of money to buy new machines almost every year.

  2. TBM’s are apparently too expensive to bring back up to the surface. They have typically been left underground – cheaper to get new ones. That’s been in the case in other projects in the country.

  3. I work for a tunnel contractor. We prefer new equipment (tbm) because they have less breakdowns, better technology, and ultimately get the job done faster and cheaper. When a project is complete it is more economical to scrap the machine instead of holding it until the company wins the bid for another job of the same diameter and similar ground conditions. By then, there will be a better machine that will mine faster or with less subsidence and the old equipment will often (but not always) be obsolete.

    Bottom line is contractors are always looking for the lowest cost option to build a job and those decisions are reflected in how the equipment is managed.

  4. Since they are using two TBMs, starting at La Brea and heading west, hopefully Tutor will be ready to start tunneling to Century City with these same TBMs when they hit La Cienega. Even if they need to install a new drive unit and cutting head, I would think the tail section would still be usable.

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