We did it!

Tunnel Boring Machine gets started on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT

After a merciless robocalling campaign, months of behind the scenes schmoozing, and whistle stop visits from Senators Duffy and Wallin (remind me to double-check those expense forms), Don and Humber—my picks for tunnel boring machine names—carried the day, along with Dennis and Lea. I’m happy to confirm that I’ll be splitting my incredible winnings equally with everyone who helped achieve this victory by voting, mumbling their general support, or just ignoring me entirely. Please submit your mailing addresses ASAP so that I can drop your full share of absolutely nothing into the mailbox.

The only part of my priceless winnings that I can’t divvy up with everyone is Wednesday’s trip into the launch pit at Black Creek Drive and Eglinton Avenue for the launch ceremony. There were actually four winners in total who were invited to the ceremony: one person who had suggested Dennis and Lea, and three of us who had all suggested Don and Humber. We got to wander around the coolest construction site in the city for the low, low, price of having to listen to a couple of speeches. Then in recognition of the enormous contributions that my fellow TBM-namers and I made to the  project, we (along with several workers much more deserving of the honour) signed our names to the belly of the beast before sending it on its way:

Everyone got to sign the TBM before it heads into its new tunnel

Glen Murray, the Minister of Infrastructure, announced proudly that the TBMs for the Crosstown line were built right here in Ontario. What he didn’t announce was that the plant where they were built is closing next year. Caterpillar seems to make a habit of buying up local manufacturers only to shut them down.

Lea again

The tunnel boring machines were both impressive in size yet smaller than I expected. I somehow thought they’d be bigger, but I guess the thing with TBMs is that they pretty much have to be the same size as the tunnel they’re digging.

Head-on view of Lea, the next TBM to be launched

Dennis is the first TBM to start, and Lea, seen above, will be up next. Don and Humber will be starting to dig toward Yonge Street from Brentcliffe Road in about a year and a half.

Vote for me!

[Update, Monday, November 19: The voting period has been extended by two days until Wednesday. I can only assume that Don and Humber are racking up too many votes for Metrolinx to count them all. Also, it can’t bode well for my receiving my fabulous prizes if they’re already deviating from the published contest rules. I suspect my winnings will be whittled down to just half of the originally promised nothing. Or possibly even less. Still, remember that your vote will ensure our combined victory. Original post from November 14 follows.]

I don’t usually deploy this blog’s legions of fans (and by legion, I mean three old guys sitting on stools in the corner) for nefarious purposes, but I’d like to encourage everyone to go to the voting page for the Crosstown LRT’s tunnel boring machines naming contest and vote for the entry that I submitted, Don and Humber. Just one vote per person, and voting ends on Monday at 4:00 p.m.

What was my inspiration for Don and Humber, you ask? Disappointment with the names for the current TBMs tunnelling the Spadina subway extension moved me to action. I suppose that Torkie, Yorkie, Holey, and Moley are good enough names, but nothing about them really screams “Toronto” to me. Okay, “Yorkie” is sort of a shout-out to history and the subway’s destination, but it’s just a bit too cutesy when combined with its mate, Torkie. Holey and Moley are so generic that they might as well be menu items at Tim Horton’s. In contrast, Don and Humber are two rivers that have historically defined Toronto and are each relatively close to the end points of the Crosstown tunnels. See what I did there? A historically important pair of names, relevant to the project at hand, and instantly recognizeable to any Torontonian. What could be better?

Only one of the other semi-finalists, “Dennis and Lea” takes its entry from something local (the Mount Dennis and Leaside neighbourhoods at the ends of the tunnels). That seems obscure enough that no one will get it. Even Google thinks that “Dennis and Lea” is a reference to the failed engagement between Dennis Quaid and Lea Thompson a quarter of a century ago. Seriously, who’s going to vote for that?

And what riches await if my names are chosen? The grand prize consists of “recognition through […] a press release” and has “no monetary value.” The prize is also non-transferrable and, yes, I have to answer a skill-testing question to claim it. And naturally, Metrolinx “reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater monetary value” should they be unable to award these unfathomable riches, so I could just get a big cup of nothing—minus the cup and the press release. Vote early, vote often once, and spread the word if you’re so inclined.