Pieces of Central Subway boring machine arrive in SF

April 25, 2013 6:47:22 PM PDT
The first two pieces of a massive tunnel boring machine have arrived in San Francisco for the new Central Subway project. The tunnel is going to run from the Caltrain station at 4th and Bryant streets to Chinatown.

Part of Bryant Street will act as a staging area until the pieces are lowered down into the ground tonight where it will be assembled into one of the world's largest drills.

Frank Ramirez came all the way from Santa Rosa with his camera to get a shot of the sections of the giant boring machine, which will soon create SF's newest underground subway line.

"I think it's out of this world, the size of these huge machines they use to make all these tunnels and all this new stuff is amazing," said Ramirez.

When it's constructed, the giant drill will be 300 feet long, big enough to create the Central Subway - a tunnel a mile and a half long to North Beach.

"This piece right here is called the forward shield and it is approximately 120 tons," said Jeremy Pinkham of Robbins Construction.

"When it is all put together what is the tonnage on that?" asked ABC7's Cornell Barnard.

"I believe this machine is right around 400 tons," said Pinkham .

It takes a really big crane to lower something that massive into the ground, 4th and Bryant, is the starting point for the excavation - better known as the launch box.

"I've seen this stuff on TV, on History Channel and all that, but it is something to see up close," said business owner Mike Saverimuttu.

Saverimuttu's automotive business is right across the street from where the huge machine is being delivered, a slight inconvenience to his customers but nothing compared to the rumble of the initial excavation last month.

"Three days of just thundering, the building was shaking. It was really bad, everyone was complaining the whole time. Now we can take anything. Now the interesting part is to see the big machine," said Saverimuttu.

The cutter head of the boring device will arrive tonight. The whole machine was manufactured in China and when it is up and running, in about a month, it can dig about 40 feet per day. The job will take six years and cost $1.6 billion.


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