tunnel boring machine naming announcement
VTA’s Official TBM Naming Contest for the BART Silicon Valley Phase II Project is Live!

Join VTA in commemorating the spirit of innovation by submitting an entry to name the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) that will bore the five-mile tunnel portion of the project! 

The tunnel boring machine for VTA’s BART Phase II Extension Project has been ordered and the custom built machine is expected to be delivered in 2025. It is a longtime tradition to name these massive machines. TBMs are traditionally given a female name to provide good luck to the project, and similar projects across the world have followed this practice. This tradition dates to the 14th century and is based on the patron saint of military engineers and miners, Saint Barbara, who stood as a symbol of protection and good luck for miners. Miners would name tunneling machines with a female name as a way to pay homage to her. 

Naming a TBM after local female figures has also been a common practice among other transit agencies. For instance, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) named the TBMs that constructed the Central Subway Mom Chung after Dr. Margaret Chung, the country’s first female Chinese-American physician and San Francisco resident, and Big Alma after Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, “The Great-Grandmother of San Francisco.”  

VTA is seeking a name for the TBM that reflects the spirit of the Project and honors a prominent female figure (or a representative name) from, or associated with, Santa Clara County or the many local communities that surround the project area. 

The TBM naming contest will be open for six weeks starting Monday, March 18, 2024, and all entries must be submitted online by 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 29, 2024. 

VTA appreciates The Mercury News’ naming contest held last December for getting everyone excited about the TBM and looks forward to seeing the Santa Clara County community submit names as a part of the agency’s Official Naming Contest! 

Name Criteria: The name should be a female name (or a representative name) that has significance to Santa Clara County. It can include descriptive adjectives that positively enhance the name (i.e., Mom Chung, Big Alma).

When to Submit: March 18 to April 29, 2024 

How to Submit: Submit your name using our official entry link.

Prizes: The winner will receive a behind-the-scenes VIP tour for four individuals of the BART Silicon Valley Phase II Project’s West Portal TBM construction launch site and more! 

Contest Rules: 

  • By submitting an entry, participants grant VTA permission to use their name and submitted entry for promotional purposes related to the project. 
  • If the same name is submitted by multiple people, the entry submitted first will be the one considered. 
  • Prizes have no cash value and cannot be traded, transferred, or sold. 
  • No purchase necessary. 
  • A selection committee made of VTA BSV Phase II staff and City of San José and City of Santa Clara staff will choose the winning submission. 
  • VTA reserves the right not to use any submission that falls outside of the naming criteria guidelines. 

More about the TBM 

VTA purchased the TBM in November 2023 and at 54 feet in diameter, it will be one of the largest TBM machines ever to be built. The TBM will be purchased from Herrenknecht, a German manufacturing company that specializes in building customized tunneling equipment such as TBMs for projects worldwide. 

Approximately 18 months after manufacturing begins, the TBM will be shipped from Kehl, Germany across the ocean to California to be reassembled on-site at the West Portal, located at the future Newhall Yard. Reassembling the TBM will take approximately 6 months on-site before it is ready to be launched.   

The TBM will launch at the West Portal and will dig 30 to 40 feet each day traveling east towards the Berryessa/North San Jose BART Station, taking approximately 3 to 4 years to complete the 5-mile-long tunnel. Once tunneling is complete, the TBM will emerge above ground at the East Portal on the east side of US 101 near Las Plumas Avenue. 

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