Photos by Austin Walsh/Daily Journal
A crowd gathered Wednesday, July 17, in Redwood City to celebrate naming the $18.2 million machine which will soon be used in a capital improvement project expected to span about two years. The drill with a 16-foot diameter will cut a tunnel to house pipeline transporting sewage to the conveyance system serving about 22,000 business and residents from Redwood City, Belmont, San Carlos, Menlo Park as well as surrounding communities.
Rick Einsiedl finally found an outlet for the trivial knowledge amassed during countless hours watching Discovery Channel.
The Redwood Shores resident said he applied his obscure expertise to drill down on the right name for the massive boring machine expected to auger out a lengthy subterranean tunnel underneath Redwood City.
Salus, the Roman goddess of safety and welfare, was the name suggested by Einsiedl who helped unveil the title during a ceremony Wednesday, July 17, celebrating the drill’s final hours above ground.
Noting the Romans were aquatic engineering pioneers, Einsiedl figured the name would be fitting for a tool which will lead the effort to update and improve Silicon Valley Clean Water infrastructure.
The fresh coat of paint will soon be scratched from the $18.2 million tool, as it embarks on roughly 2.4-mile journey under the Redwood Shores Parkway right-of-way, which is expected to take almost two years.
The drill with a 16-foot diameter will cut a tunnel to house pipeline transporting sewage to the conveyance system serving Redwood City, Belmont, San Carlos, Menlo Park and surrounding Peninsula communities.
Standing before the drill as it was suspended from a crane, project manager Jack Sucilsky admired the magnitude of the mechanism.
“This thing is massive,” said Sucilsky, of the machine manufactured in Germany, transported domestically between 35 trucks and assembled locally before being put to use.
Specifically designed to push with ease through the region’s sand, silt and clay, the first 650 feet of tunneling will advance relatively slowly, at about 20 feet per day, until the entire system is in place, at which point production will jump to about 70 feet per day.
In all, the entire regional update project is expected to cost about $495 million, which will be financed with a loan from the Environmental Protection Agency. Ultimately, the improvements are planned to allow Silicon Valley Clean Water to better treat up to 108 million gallons of water per day from 22,000 businesses and residents. The Redwood City facility processes sewage and discharges it to the Bay, while also producing solid material used for agriculture or landfill cover.
The infrastructure repair program targets a system built more than four decades ago, which is facing much higher demand as the Peninsula ‘s community continually evolves and grows.
Belmont Councilman Warren Lieberman, who is also chair of the Silicon Valley Clean Water Board of Directors, celebrated work soon beginning on the tunneling segment of the project.
“This is the only time when it is appropriate to say — drill, baby, drill,” said Lieberman, evoking the phrase popularized by former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin during the 2008 debates.
Former Redwood City mayor John Seybert, who left the clean water board in January, also expressed enthusiasm for the project to get underway and eventually finish.
“I’m excited to see this thing pop out on the other end,” he said.
Following a discussion of the program and drill, ceremony attendees took an opportunity to scrawl messages and signatures on the machine.
Einsiedl addressed the crowd, detailing his thought process leading to proposing a name which was selected ahead of dozens of other submissions in a competition which ended last month.
Beyond the opportunity to lean on his font of frivolous information, Einsiedl noted winning the competition granted him a unique opportunity.
“This is the first time I named anything and I didn’t have to feed it and clothe it afterward,” he said.
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