In late winter 2017, the Los Angeles Times was given the unique (and exclusive) opportunity by the city’s Metropolitan Transit Authority to report on a massive tunneling machine that was creating a new subway tunnel under the streets of downtown Los Angeles. The Times sent a team of reporters (Thomas Curwen, Mel Melcon, Albert Lee and Lorena Iniguez Elebee) who, after a four-hour safety class, joined the miners on two day-shifts as they steered and maneuvered this 400-foot, 1,000-ton earth-chewing beast, affectionately known as Angeli, through a stratum of dirt known as the Fernando Formation.
Thanks to the production work of Sean Greene and Andrea Roberson, the story — in words, in pictures, video and a 360-video — immersed readers into the sights and sounds and history of tunnels, and it provided an introduction into the world of moles and sandhogs, the men — there were no women on this shift — who can imagine doing nothing else for a living than tunneling. “Why is tunneling so addicting?” asks one. “It’s like watching civilization in action.”