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LADWP showcases new machine for tunneling project under Burbank

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Locals visit the site where an earth pressure balance tunnel boring machine will be used to create a large tunnel, during open house for the L.A. Water Infrastructure project, at Johnny Carson Park South, in Burbank on Saturday, Feb. 8.
(Raul Roa/Burbank Leader)

For several months Johnny Carson Park South in Burbank has been fenced off to the public by tall, sound-reducing barricades. This past Saturday, the public had an opportunity to observe what was going on behind those walls.

What people saw during a community event that day was a massive 63-foot-deep pit on the 2700 block of Riverside Drive where park space used to be. They also saw a 200-ton tunnel-boring machine named Luciana, which over the next two years will be making its way toward the Burbank-North Hollywood border at Burbank Boulevard and Biloxi Avenue.

The gaping hole in the ground and the heavy machinery is part of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s River Supply Conduit project, a decadelong improvement that aims to replace L.A.’s aging water infrastructure, according to Richard Harasick, senior assistant general manager of water systems for LADWP.

In an interview Monday Harasick explained the project, which will bring drinkable water from the northeast San Fernando Valley to central Los Angeles, is being completed in segments.

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This North Hollywood-to-Burbank section, Harasick said, is one of the final pieces that will connect the new water system together.

By the beginning of March, the tunnel-boring machine will be lowered into the pit and will ultimately dig through 13,000 feet of dirt over the next two years at about 60 feet per day.

Harasick said LADWP will be installing a new 78-inch steel water line along that route to transport water from the North Hollywood Pump Station to a reservoir facility at Griffith Park.

“When it’s all said and done, all those different sections of this project [will] have taken 10 years to complete,” he said.

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The tunneling portion of the project is expected to be completed by September 2021, and the installation of the pipeline by March 2022.

The current water infrastructure being used by LADWP to transport water from this section was built around the 1940s, Harasick said.

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Luciana Torroledo, 4, of Culver City, stands in front of the earth-pressure-balance tunnel-boring machine named after her, during open house for the L.A. Water Infrastructure project, at Johnny Carson Park South, in Burbank on Saturday, Feb. 8.
(Raul Roa/Burbank Leader)

He added that it is good luck to name the tunnel-boring machine after a woman, and in this case it was named after 4-year-old Luciana Torroledo, the daughter of Johan Torroledo, the LADWP’s project manager overseeing this project.

One of the attendees of Saturday’s community event was Burbank Mayor Sharon Springer, who said on Tuesday LADWP’s project is important because it will provide reliable water service to its customers.

“It’s going to provide a lot of drinking water for a lot of Angelenos,” Springer said.

The Burbank mayor added that Johnny Carson Park South will be rebuilt once the project is completed, and she hopes it could be rebuilt as a dog park.

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