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See Metro’s new tunnel boring machine coming together in Downtown LA

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The enormous piece of machinery is almost ready to start digging

Metro’s Regional Connector project has been causing (or at least attracting) plenty of chaos in Downtown LA since it was approved in 2012. The project, which will add three subway stops and connect the Blue and Expo lines to Union Station (they currently end at the 7th Street station), is now well underway in spite of more than a few lawsuits threatening its future.

Now, Metro has released a new video showing the project’s tunnel boring machine under construction. Ever wonder how construction crews undertake such massive infrastructure projects dozens of feet below ground? The fairly informative video will give you a pretty good idea.

The massive cutter head, which measures 22 feet across and is outfitted with some pretty intimidating disc cutters, does all of the boring. Meanwhile, soil is removed through a chute while the whole machine is propelled forward by hydraulic cylinders. The tunnel walls, as it turns out, are constructed at the same time as the tunnel is being dug. All in all, the machinery that creates the tunnel is nearly the length of a football field, with 275 feet of logistic equipment following behind the boring machine.

If this is all too technical, here’s a video of the Crenshaw Line’s tunnel boring machine hard at work below Leimert Park. Metro also notes that the Regional Connector machine is still in need of a name, along with artwork. Vote now!