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Everybody Mom Chung Tonight

May 31, 2013
tags: , ,

Thanks to the generosity of @axisworks, I and Eric Fischer got a tour of Mom Chung, the Tunnel Boring Machine that will be digging its way towards Chinatown (and hopefully beyond).

I looked extremely badass official wearing my yellow vest and hardhat — I am pretty sure I could have wrested control of the TBM and dug my own path, but I figure its best to wait until they try to stop in North Beach.


The opening festivities included Mayor Ed Lee sporting his new handlebar moustache.


And a rather delicious cake.


“The Box” is an extraordinarily big hole along 4th between Bryant and Harrison. They used the big red crane to drop Mom Chung in to do her work.




Here’s the ramp that the humans use…


…which leads to a dramatically lit long tunnel.


The ethereal glow is from welding.



Dear SF Muni: I wrote some instructions on the side of Mom Chung. (These should not be a surprise to frequent readers.)


Gratuitous panoramas:

The Box:


Mom Chung’s cutting head is ready to go:



Gratuitous welding GIF:

Eric Fischer took some pictures with a real camera, including me in mid-slogan:

While the Wang Chung reference is inevitable, Mom Chung (and Big Alma) kicked some serious ass. The TBM are well named.

This being San Francisco, you should not be surprised that both TBMs are on Twitter and are anthropomorphically active.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. Inger permalink
    May 31, 2013 5:46 pm

    So. Jealous.

  2. peter permalink
    May 31, 2013 9:47 pm

    Really awesome, especially the pano shot

  3. gevin shaw permalink
    June 1, 2013 5:33 pm

    The Summer of the Ditch?

    Here’s more info:

    Oops, wrong city. Chinatown-to-Chinatown tunnel they’re not telling us about?

  4. June 2, 2013 9:04 am

    So amazing, thank you for sharing. Now I’m going to have to do some research on whether these are the same machines used for the Caldecott 4th bore and if not, how they are different.

  5. June 2, 2013 9:09 am

    Well, that was easier than I expected. You can find out just about everything you’d want to know about the Caldecott Tunnel project here:

    From the FAQ:
    “Q: Are you using a tunnel boring machine?
    A: No. Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) are custom made for each job. They are very effective in the right circumstances, but also very expensive. TBMs work best when the surrounding rock is consistently hard throughout the boring area. Fractured rock, the type at the Caldecott, would tend to collapse around the machine, slowing the operation. The New Austrian Tunneling Method is a better fit for the job.”

  6. TinyTim permalink
    June 3, 2013 1:48 pm

    Is Rose Pak boring, too?

  7. Ivy permalink
    June 4, 2013 2:40 pm

    I am SO JEALOUS.

  8. June 10, 2013 2:45 pm

    Awesome eyes in the ground, thanks for sharing. Don’t loop the T though, overlay a loop on the spokes that are the Market Street and Central Subway!


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