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Meet Harriet, the tunnel boring machine digging the LAX rail connection

Someday Angelenos can take the train to Los Angeles International Airport on the $2 billion Crenshaw light rail line.

But first things first: L.A. Metro on Monday unveiled a 950-ton tunnel boring machine that will make that dream a reality in about three years. You can call the equipment Harriet.

Naming tunnel boring machines after women is an old mining tradition. In this case, Metro arrived at a name after a months-long contest among Los Angeles school kids.

TBM essay contest winner Calvin Mosley, who proposed the “Harriet” name.
Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Agency
TBM essay contest winner Calvin Mosley, who proposed the “Harriet” name.

The winning name pays tribute to Civil War abolitionist Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, the network of safe houses and tunnels that helped slaves escape to freedom.

However, with the exception of one mile-long section, most of the Crenshaw/LAX line will run above ground, connecting the Green and Expo Lines and eventually reaching the airport.

Crews will assemble the boring machine underground in coming weeks and begin digging tunnels in the spring. The rail line will run 8.5 miles long with eight stations, including Leimert Park, Hyde Park and downtown Inglewood.

The line is expected to open to the public in 2019.