LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Two tunnel-digging machines that will bore through the ground to create a path for the Metro Purple Line subway under Wilshire Boulevard were unveiled today.

The tunnel-boring machines were given the names “Elsie” and “Soyeon,” chosen from among entries submitted by Southland students.

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“Elsie” is named for Elsie Eavers, the first woman elected as a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, according to Metro.

“Soyeon” is named for female astronaut and mechanical engineer Yi Soyeon, whose name means “bright” and “beautiful.”

The machines, each weighing about 1,000 tons, will be fully assembled at Wilshire and La Brea Avenue, and they will dig twin tunnels toward the east to the Wilshire/Western Station, where the Purple Line currently ends. The machines will then be moved back to La Brea, and they will dig west toward Beverly Hills.

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“The tunnel boring machines have a cutter head in the front and that is the piece of equipment that goes through the earth and removes the dirt,” said LA Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero.

The tunneling work is expected to begin later this summer.

The Purple Line extension from Wilshire/Western to Wilshire and La Cienega Boulevard is scheduled to be completed in 2023. The line will then be extended to Beverly Hills and Century City, and ultimately to the West Los Angeles VA property near Westwood. The overall extension will include seven new stations along the Wilshire corridor.

“This has been the most congested east-west corridor in America. Wilshire Boulevard,” said LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Trains could be rushing beneath our feet before LA gets the Olympics so fans don’t have to make their way through Westside traffic.

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