LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A machine that will soon begin drilling tunnels for a new light rail line through South Los Angeles has been named in honor of Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist “conductor” of the Underground Railroad that helped slaves escape bondage.

“Harriet” the boring machine was lowered during a ceremony Monday morning at the Expo construction yard to mark the beginning of tunnel excavation work for the 8.5-mile light rail line from Crenshaw Boulevard to Los Angeles International Airport.

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The name was chosen via a student contest and incorporated into artwork for the machine’s tail shield.

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The 950-ton German-made machine, a Herrenknecht AG, is 21 feet in diameter and 400 feet long. It will be lowered in segments and assembled over the next few weeks. Tunneling is expected to last 13 weeks.

The $2 billion light rail project, known as Crenshaw/LAX, will connect the Green and Expo lines and include eight stations in Inglewood, the Crenshaw area and near LAX.

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