Clackamas County on the hunt for a name

Hello My Name Is? An image of a TBM similar to that to be used by the county, from the county’s official website.

By Ethan M. Rogers

Clackamas County’s Water and Environment Services is looking to join the international community by continuing the tradition of naming their tunnel boring machine, or TBM.

Set to begin digging a new outfall pipeline later this year, the county is on the hunt for a name suitable for their TBM.

Bay Area Rapid Transit, BART for short, expanded their lines into San Jose. Some joker thought a beach city should name their TBM after a giant worm from a desert planet and thus was christened Shai-Hulud. Frank Herbert spun in his grave.

Seattle’s Ship Canal Water Quality Project dredged deep when they smoked a bunch of weed and named their TBM after a local band. MudHoney was probably a little too racy for a soulless machine.

Can Clackamas County do better?

Segment map of the project. The blue line represents the TBM’s portion of the project. Image from Clackamas County official website


The tunneling process is expected to take seven months and will connect the Tri-City Water Resource Recovery Facility to the Willamette River. The outfall pipeline, once completed, will carry treated water from the facility to the middle of the river.
The naming of the great metal beast has a much shorter timeline – submissions to the county will only be accepted until Feb. 29. at 5 p.m.

The form county asks name submitters to explain the inspiration behind their choice. The contest is open to all with the winner having their selected name appear on the TBM and be referred to in news stories and social media when people talk about the project.
Winners may, however, be forced to listen to other’s claim they came up with the name. It’s unclear how the city will recognize the creative genius behind the TBM’s as-yet-unknown moniker.

Side view of the TBM’s path to the Willamette. Image from Clackamas County official website

The TBM will dig a tunnel half a mile long and nine-feet in diameter under the Oregon-99 while skirting the I-205 southbound lanes on the east side of the freeway. The as-yet-unnamed machine will be responsible for segment two of the outfall pipeline project.
Segment one of the pipeline will originate at the nearby water facility and be completed using “open cut” construction, which is fancy construction engineer speak for “we’re gonna dig a hole, drop the pipe in and then bury it.” The final segment, segment three, will be “in-water construction,” which sounds like it would be very wet work with barges and divers and man-eating Sturgeons..

But, first, a name. A way for the community to feel a sense of participation and ownership in the project designed to make waste flow more efficiently.

The Glaswegians, cheeky buggers that they are, made a Disney joke. Cruella de Drill. I would have expected better from the Scots than a nod to 101 Dalmatians. If I had to guess, I’d say the naming took place during a long term pub closure. I can’t prove this.

The Canucks up there in Toronto had their collective heads screwed on properly when they named their TBM after The Thin White Duke. Yet even in this move of genius, I think the Clackamas Community can use their hive mind to come up with something even better than “Diggy Stardust.”

Submit. Let’s show those other poser cities just how deep Clackamas can go.

Ethan M. Rogers

Archives