It’s not every day a retirement ceremony is held for a piece of machinery, but Metro officials did just that Friday in honor of a 950-ton tunnel-boring machine that has completed its role in building a rail line that will carry passengers to the doorstep of Los Angeles International Airport.The machine, named “Harriet” in honor of Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist “conductor” of the Civil War-era Underground Railroad that helped slaves escape captivity, dug out a pair of tunnels that will connect three underground station on the Crenshaw/LAX line.
When completed in 2019, the $2 billion rail line will run 8.5 miles between the Expo Line near Crenshaw Boulevard and the Green Line near LAX.
“For the first time in the history of this city, we will have public transportation into our international airport,” Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro board member Mark Ridley-Thomas told ABC7 at the retirement party for Harriet in Leimert Park.Harriet was lowered into the ground in February 2016 and began its excavation mission in April of that year. Moving at an average of 60 feet per day, it completed the first tunnel in October. Digging began on the second tunnel in late November, and Harriet finished its work on April 6.
For the second tunnel alone, Harriet dug its way through 144,250 cubic yards of dirt, according to Metro.
Construction crews will now work to disassemble Harriet — a German-made Herrenknecht AG. The machine is 21 feet in diameter and 400 feet long. It will be removed in pieces from the underground construction site and moved to a storage yard, just in chase it’s needed for a future subway project.
“This is a 40-year dream come true, and to have Harriet as our vehicle, symbolizing Harriet Tubman who brought freedom to so many, it is just a good time to be here,” Metro board member Jackie Dupont-Walker told Channel 7.
—City News Service
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