Tunneling machine for Regional Connector sets sail for the Southland

The TBM on a barge in Puget Sound last week (that’s Mt. Rainier in the background of the first pic) en route to Los Angeles. Photos: Metro.

The tunnel boring machine (TBM) for the Regional Connector project is en route to the Southland. After several months of refurbishing and testing, the 22-foot-tall machine was loaded on a barge in Tacoma, Washington, and set sail for the Port of Long Beach last week.

She’ll be out at sea for six days before making it back to dry land (you can follow her progress with this nifty tracker) — as of 7:45 a.m. Monday the barge and tug boat named the Barbara Foss was just west of Monterey. After arriving in Long Beach, segments of the machine will be transported at night to a holding area near Little Tokyo.

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

It’s another project milestone, as the construction along the Regional Connector alignment up to this point has been in preparation for tunneling operations to begin. By the way, the TBM has a personality all her own. Check out the TBM Twitter feed.

The Connector project is a 1.9-mile underground tunnel that will tie together the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines in DTLA. The project — funded in part by Measure R — will allow for faster light rail rides to and through DTLA. It is scheduled for completion in 2020.

10 replies

  1. Hi Anna,

    Didn’t the TBM already have a name during the construction of the Gold Line Eastside Extension?

    • Hi Morris,

      The TBM will dig a tunnel starting at 1st and Alameda to 4th and Flower, creating three new Metro Rail stations along the way.

      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source