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The Really Boring Part of the Sydney Metro Project Is about to Begin

The first of the five tunnel boring machines that will take the Sydney Metro under the harbor and the city center arrive at the construction site, Los Angeles steps on the accelerator to advance its downtown streetcar project and another extension opens on the Caribbean's second metro, in Santo Domingo.

(Photo by David Edwards)

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Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.

First of 5 Tunnel Boring Machines Arrives in Sydney for the Heavy Digging on the Metro

The Sydney Metro will begin operating next year, ferrying riders from the city’s northwestern suburbs almost all the way into central Sydney.

But it won’t take them into central Sydney yet. Work on that part of the Metro will begin before the year’s out, though. Global Rail News reports that New South Wales Transport Minister Andrew Constance confirmed the first of five tunnel boring machines arrived at the Sydney Metro project staging site in Marrickville.

Each of the machines is arriving in eight shipping containers, as well as 23 pieces too big to fit into a container to be delivered on huge specialized 68-wheel flatbed trucks. Each of the machines is 150 meters (492.1 feet) long — the length of two Airbus A380 super-jumbo jets placed nose to tail.

The 1,100-metric-ton (1,213-US-ton) machine that arrived last week is one of two that will dig the 8.1-kilometer (5-mile) tunnels that carry Sydney Metro trains beneath the city center, with intermediate stations at Waterloo, Central, Pitt Street and Martin Place and a terminus at Barangaroo station in Sydenham.

Two more machines will dig 6.2-kilometer (3.9-mile) tunnels from Chatswood, where the metro service set to launch next year will terminate, to the edge of Sydney Harbor. The fifth will dig both of the 1-kilometer (.62-mile) tunnels under the harbor itself.

Each of the machines is expected to dig through the sandstone beneath Sydney at an average of 120 meters (393.7 feet) per week.

Service on the central section of the Sydney Metro should begin in 2024.

Los Angeles Moves to Put Long-Delayed Downtown Streetcar on Fast Forward, But There’s a Catch

By now, Angelenos were supposed to be riding around downtown on a modern streetcar. Lack of funding for the project, among other issues, kept that from happening. Curbed LA reports that the Los Angeles City Council took steps intended to get the project out of the starting gate on Aug. 15 by approving a funding package that would cover the line’s construction cost, now estimated at $291 million.

The funding plan Council approved, however, relies on two contingencies. One of them is that the Federal Transit Administration approve $100 million in grant funding for the project. The other is that the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority okay the release of $200 million in proceeds from Measure M, a sales tax that raises funds for transportation construction projects in the county. The funds in question are earmarked for the streetcar but not scheduled to be released to the city until 2053.

The LACMTA’s own rules for doling out Measure M money is that accelerated funding for specific projects can be approved only if it “does not delay or otherwise negatively impact other projects.”

City Council member Jose Huizar, whose district includes the downtown area the streetcar will serve, says that even without the Federal grant, the project has $590 million in “committed funding” to cover the cost of building, operating and maintaining the line over the next 30 years. The other $390 million, Curbed reports, will come from proceeds from Measure R, an earlier sales tax for transportation that will merge into Measure M when it reaches its time limit, and from a tax on downtown properties located along or close to the proposed streetcar route.

Santo Domingo Cuts Ribbon on New Metro Extension

The International Railway Journal reports that the Santo Domingo Metro, the second subway in the Caribbean, now extends to the municipality of Santo Domingo Este with the opening of a 3.6-kilometer (2.2-mile) extension of Line 2 on Aug. 8. The four-station extension from Eduardo Brito to Concepción Bona will have a capacity of 150,000 daily riders. Alstom supplied six new three-car Metropolis trainsets to augment the existing Line 2 fleet for service on the new extension, dubbed Line 2b.

The Santo Domingo Metro was conceived by current Dominican President Danilo Medina’s predecessor, Leonel Fernández, both as a means of dealing with the Dominican capital’s notorious traffic congestion and as an emblem of national pride. Stations on the metro are named not for cross streets or public landmarks on the surface but for notable figures from Dominican history. The metro is also intended to improve the quality and efficiency of Santo Domingo’s public transportation network.

Know of a project that should be featured in this column? Send a Tweet with links to @MarketStEl using the hashtag #newstarts.

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Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well.

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Tags: los angelestransit agenciestransit stationssydney

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