csub.jpgThe public is being asked to vote on an important San Francisco Municipal Railway construction matter–the names of the tunnel boring machines being brought in this spring for the Central Subway project.

Voters can decide who from a list of five influential San Francisco female historical leaders should be honored on the two machines, which are expected to arrive in the coming months to build the tunnels for a new stretch of Muni’s subway system.

The names will be given to machines working on the northbound and southbound tunnels, which will connect the South of Market neighborhood through to Union Square, Chinatown and North Beach.

The machines will dig at a rate of about 40 feet per day, Muni officials said.

The $1.6 billion project is expected to open in 2019.

Muni officials said naming the machines is a tunneling tradition and auspicious for the project.

The naming choices include Mary Ellen Pleasant, a civil rights and Underground Railroad leader in the 1860s; Lillie “Firebelle Lil” Hitchcock Coit, known for her firefighting and eponymous tower on Telegraph Hill; and Dr. Margaret “Mom” Chung, a Chinese-American physician who worked out of Chinatown during World War II.

The other two women are Juana Briones, who came to the city in 1835 working as a businesswoman and “Big Alma” de Bretteville Spreckels, influential in the construction of the Palace of Legion of Honor.

Up to two votes can be cast at www.centralsubwaysf.com/tbm-name.

The voting period ends Jan. 23. Results will be announced soon after, Muni officials said.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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