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Metro Won't Start Drilling New Subway Tunnels Until You Name This Machine

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Before Metro's new massive tunnel making machine can dig tunnels for Crenshaw Line, they need your help naming it.To help connect Baldwin Hills with Westchester with the 8.5 mile long Crenshaw Line, Metro will need to create two, one-mile tunnels, reports the L.A. Times. To do so, they'll use a huge piece of equipment—known as a tunnel boring machine (TBR)—which will be lowered into the ground early next year to begin digging. But before all of that drilling can happen, the machine needs a name and Metro is looking to the public to help choose one.

To give you a sense of scale for the project, here's the drill bit they will be using:


The tradition of naming digging equipment after women began sometime around the 1500s, when miners prayed to Saint Barbara to protect them underground. Since then cities around the world have named equipment after a wide variety of famous women—from royalty to the character in a martial arts novel—and Metro intends on keeping up the tradition.

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The public can now vote on the name of Metro's TBR from a list of 10 submitted by students from high schools in the area. Most of the names include famous women from history, including one local name—Lorena Weaver, who was among the first women to drive a bus in L.A. The other names include Maya Angelou, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. There's also some less non-human names, including M.A.C. (Make A Change)—referring to "making transportation easier on teens and others who do not have cars or bikes," and The Africana, which the student who submitted the names explains, "The new rail line should always be a reminder to the world of the rich culture that inhabits the area."

Voting for the name will continue until December 1, 2015. You can also vote for the artwork that will be displayed on the side of the TBR by choosing from designs created by local elementary school students.

Once named, the TBR will be lowered down early next year and spend about a year on each tunnel, which will connect three new stations: Expo/Crenshaw, Martin Luther King Jr. and Leimert Park. The Crenshaw line is expected to begin service in 2019.