Stories about Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine. Should also be used for tunnel or Alaskan Way Viaduct stories.

This July 2015 photo shows the SR 99 tunneling machine’s main bearing encircled by the gear ring that facilitates rotation of the cutterhead.
Washington State Department of Transportation

Bertha, the giant tunnel boring machine stalled in downtown Seattle, remains in pieces at the foot of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The Solar Pioneer protest barge in Elliot Bay with the Shell oil drilling rig in the background.
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

Shell’s Arctic oil drilling plans, Seattle’s waterfront tunnel, the $15 minimum wage movement – are they all unstoppable? And if Washington state’s drought is unstoppableon the east side of the mountains and we have plenty of water on the west side, should you take as long a shower as you want?

Bill Radke debates the week’s news with LiveWire’s Luke Burbank, Republican Chris Vance and political blogger Erica C. Barnett.

The hole built to rescue Bertha, the deep boring machine.
WSDOT webcam

Engineers have removed the cutter head from the enormous tunneling machine nicknamed Bertha. The malfunctioning part had been stuck for more than a year in a highway project under Seattle's downtown.

One section of Bertha's front body now sits on the ground near the rescue pit.
AP Photo/Ted Warren

A 270-ton section of Bertha’s front body now lies on the ground in downtown Seattle, ready for workers to add steel reinforcing. The Seattle Tunnel Partners hopes to lay the tunnel borer's cutter head nearby in a couple of weeks. 

They’ll be repaired so workers can complete the tunnel that’s replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct. KUOW’s Joshua McNichols went to Pioneer Square to see how people are feeling about Bertha these days.

Workers stand on the reddish-gray surface of Bertha.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Bertha the drill should be back at work on the tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct by August. There’s still some unstable soil left to drill through.

Officials will be watching Pioneer Square for patches of settling. After that, the ground becomes more firm, and project managers predict smooth drilling at the maximum rate of 65 feet per day.

 Crews chip away a circle on the southern wall of the pit that was built to access and repair Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine. Eventually it helped Bertha break through/
Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Is this week the re-birth of Bertha? What’s the right punishment for a florist who won’t do gay weddings? And a Bellevue man is on the short list to go to Mars and never return. You’ll meet him, along with Q13 FOX’s C.R. Douglas, Jonathan Martin of the Seattle Times and the Seattle Channel's Joni Balter.

Bertha, the tunnel boring machine, emerges from more than a year of captivity. The machine's turbines can be seen beneath the plume of dust.
Washington State Department of Transportation

The tunnel machine that’s been stuck underground for more than a year reached daylight Thursday.

Now Bertha is slowly inching into position for repair work to begin. 

The cutterhead on Seattle's troubled tunnel boring machine broke through the wall of a rescue pit at midday Thursday.

Four workers were injured in an accident at the north end of the 99 tunnel project near Seattle Center on Thursday afternoon.

Three of those workers walked out on their own; firefighters had to walk in half a mile to free a fourth worker who had been trapped 25 feet down from where he fell. 

According to Seattle Fire spokesman Kyle Moore, the men were working on a wall project when it broke beneath them, sending them hurtling 25 feet to the ground below. The men were 23, 29, 31 and 36.

KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Bertha, the deep boring machine stuck underneath Seattle, will slide on greased metal rails after crashing into a pit.

That’s the plan, anyway, to free the machine from its den, where it has lived for more than a year. Matt Preedy of the Washington Department of Transportation revealed that new nugget of information during an informal chat in Pioneer Square.

What Happened This Week? Thanks For Asking

Jan 16, 2015
Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch watches the closing moments of an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 21, 2014.
AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

An engineer said “catastrophic failure” in the same breath as “Bertha” – what does that mean? Washington state has America's most regressive tax system, is that about to change? Should Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch have to talk to the media if he doesn’t want to? And if you weren’t born in the Pacific Northwest, can you ever truly fit in?

Flickr Photo/Washington State Department of Transportation

Marcie Sillman talks to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray about the Highway 99 tunnel project and the city's plan to study the safety of the viaduct.

KUOW Photo/Carolyn Adolph

They were not reassuring words.

Engineers hired to rescue Bertha, the deep boring machine stalled under downtown Seattle, wrote to state officials: “If we continue the current ‘repair as we go’ method of excavation, we significantly increase the risk of a catastrophic failure.”

A transport vehicle carries the new front end of the bearing block for Bertha. First though, the machine has to be dug out from beneath Pioneer Square.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC-BY-NC-ND)

They were not reassuring words.

Engineers hired to rescue Bertha, the deep boring machine stalled under downtown Seattle, wrote to state officials: “If we continue the current ‘repair as we go’ method of excavation, we significantly increase the risk of a catastrophic failure.”

The 'Week in Review' panel broadcasts in front of a live audience at Little London Plane in Pioneer Square on Friday, Jan. 9, 2015.
KUOW Photo/Caroline Dodge

What's the Seattle connection to this week's attack on a French satirical magazine? Is it time to start thinking about a Plan B for Bertha, the slumbering tunnel machine? And should we open an Ivar's fish and chips bar inside the aging Kalakala ferry instead of cutting it apart with a blowtorch?

Bill Radke reviews the week's news along with news analyst Joni Balter, Crosscut's Knute Berger, former Seattle mayor Charles Royer and special guest  chef Matt Dillon in front of a live audience at The Little London Plane in Pioneer Square.

See more photos from the event on KUOW's Facebook page