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Metro’s photos of subway tunneler are beautiful and terrifying

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Don’t mess with Harriet the tunnel boring machine

Harriet, the tunnel boring machine drilling the future Crenshaw/LAX train line completed the first of two journeys through Leimert Park today, and Metro photographer Steve Hymon was there to capture the moment.

His striking black and white photos show the machine cutting through a final chunk of earth and breaking through the wall into the cavernous pit that will someday hold the Leimert Park subway station. To be honest, it looks kind of scary—like a nightmarish caterpillar emerging from the chrysalis with a face full of teeth instead of wings.

The photos give a sense of the project’s massive scale; now that Harriet has completed her first mile-long journey, she’ll be disassembled and hauled by truck back to her starting point to begin work on a second tunnel following the same route.

At that point, Harriet’s work will be finished. After the Leimert Park station, the line will continue above ground until it arrives at its final stop at Aviation and Century.

Metro CEO Phil Washington used the first tunnel’s completion as an opportunity to announce that the contractor working on the Crenshaw/LAX line has agreed to undertake the construction of a possible additional stop at Aviation and 96th Street that would allow passengers to connect to the future people mover shuttle planned for LAX. The environmental review for that potential station has yet to be concluded.

Construction on the Crenshaw/LAX Line is now more than halfway complete and Metro hopes the project will be complete by 2019.