Tunneling crews discuss their progress as they operate Bertha in November 2013. Inch-by-inch progress data is collected and analyzed by dozens of monitors on the 57.5-foot-diameter machine as it tunnels its way beneath Seattle.
It’s been hard to get straight answers about what forced Bertha, the world's largest tunnel machine, to halt. It began boring July 30, 2013, and when Bertha broke down in December, it was ahead of schedule. Since then, the machine has been mostly idle beneath the Seattle waterfront. Project officials still haven't publicly identified a root cause.
Contractors working for the state of Washington are planning a high-stakes operation to rescue Bertha — the world's largest tunneling machine.
Bertha is supposed to be boring a 2-mile highway tunnel under downtown Seattle, but it got stuck in December.
Bertha is on Seattle's waterfront, between South Main and South Jackson streets, about 60 feet straight down. At first, they thought the machine was being stymied by a big glacial rock. Then attention focused on the chewed-up remains of a metal pipe. But now it seems Bertha's ailment is mechanical.
Washington State Department of Transportation officials told the Seattle City Council Monday afternoon that the face of the state Route 99 tunnel machine has to come off in order to repair its damaged machinery.
Governor Jay Inslee puts a halt to executions and initiates a debate about the future of capital punishment in Washington state. Meanwhile, state transportation officials continue to explore the cost overruns as repairs to Bertha are expected to take months. And the housing community reviews Seattle's affordability issue.
Steve Scher talks with Crosscut’s Knute Berger, Eli Sanders of The Stranger and news analyst Joni Balter about this week's top stories.