Bertha

SR Tunnel Project
1:58 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Bertha's Progress

Bertha's launch pit.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bertha, the world's biggest tunneling machine, is a five-story-tall monstrosity of drilling tasked with digging out the tunnel for State Route 99 to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

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New obstacles to megaproject?
8:23 am
Fri March 14, 2014

Archaeological Digging Starts On Seattle's Stalled Tunnel Project

Removing Bertha's cutter head will require digging through soil that could have archaeological resources.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT

The past could present yet another obstacle to the future of the state Route 99 megaproject on the Seattle waterfront.

Archaeologists with the tunnel project started digging a series of 60 small holes Thursday to see if any signs of historic or prehistoric human activity are in the area.

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SR 99 Tunnel
7:57 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Bertha's Very Bad Week, A Timeline

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.
Credit Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC-BY-NC-ND)

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.

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Around the Nation
2:43 am
Sat March 1, 2014

Sand Grinds World's Largest Tunneling Machine To A Halt

The Seattle tunneling machine known as Bertha, which started its task in July, is now stuck 60 feet underground.
Ted S. Warren AP

Originally published on Sat March 1, 2014 8:03 am

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.

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Bertha Woes
6:23 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Six Months Needed To Repair Seattle Tunnel Machine

Chris Dixon of Seattle Tunnel Partners
Credit KUOW/John Ryan

Seattle's tunnel builders say getting their world-record tunnel machine going again will take at least six more months.

The tunnel machine known as Bertha has sat largely motionless for nearly three months since it overheated in early December.

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SR 99 Tunnel Project
9:00 am
Tue February 25, 2014

Transportation Officials: To Fix Bertha, Cutter Head Needs To Be Removed

Bertha's face, seen here before starting the state Route 99 tunnel, will need to be removed for repairs.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Bertha needs a face lift.

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.

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SR 99 Tunnel Project
9:44 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Tunnel Tolling: Build It, And They Won't Come?

The Alaskan Way Viaduct section of state Route 99 is being replaced by a tunnel under downtown Seattle and will be partially paid for with toll revenues.
Credit Flickr Photo/camknows (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Anyone who's hosted a party has probably had that panicky feeling beforehand: What if you throw a big party and nobody comes?

State transportation officials face a similar worry: What if after they build a $3.1 billion underground highway to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, not enough people use it?

Build It And They Won't Come?

The state Legislature has decreed that tolls have to pay for $200 million of the state Route 99 tunnel's construction cost.

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The Week In Review
2:53 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Death Penalty Debate, Bertha Costs, And No Place Like Home

Governor Jay Inslee announced Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, that he is suspending the use of the death penalty in Washington state, but the moratorium does not commute the sentences of people currently condemned to death.
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File

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.

Alaskan Way Viaduct
2:46 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

First Stuck, Now Broken: What's Wrong With Bertha?

Flickr Photo/Washington State Department of Transportation

Marcie Sillman talks with state transportation secretary Lynn Peterson about Bertha's latest condition and plans to get the world’s biggest tunnel boring machine moving again.

Alaskan Way Viaduct
2:36 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Mayor Murray On Bertha: ‘I Don’t Think We Should Get Involved In Finger-Pointing’

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Ross Reynolds talks with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray about Bertha's continuing woes and who would ultimately be on the hook for cost overruns.

Stuck In Place
4:51 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Seattle's Tunnel Machine Chokes On Dirt

Seattle Tunnel Partners workers atop a tank of soil conditioner used by tunnel builders
KUOW Photo/John Ryan

State officials said Friday afternoon that the tunneling machine known as Bertha had to stop, not because it hit foreign objects, but because it clogged with dirt.

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Alaskan Way Viaduct
2:55 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Why Isn't Bertha Moving?

Bertha, the world’s biggest tunnel boring machine, has been stuck under Seattle since Dec. 6, 2013.
Flickr Photo/Washington State Department of Transportation

David Hyde talks with Mike Lindblom, Seattle Times transportation reporter, about why Bertha hasn't  moved since December.

Bertha is the world’s biggest tunnel boring machine that has been charged with digging out the replacement path for the Alaskan Way Viaduct under Seattle.

History
2:40 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Buried Treasure: Burke Museum On What's Ahead For Bertha

This Rainier bottle from the Seattle Brewing & Malting Co. was excavated during an archaeological survey in preparation for Bertha.
Courtesy of Burke Museum

David Hyde visits the basement of Burke Museum to speak with geology writer David Williams about the historical artifacts that have been unearthed by Seattle's relentless earth moving.

Alaskan Way Viaduct
5:32 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Still No Answers For Stuck Bertha

Washington Department of Transportation's Matt Preedy points out the new roadway that will lead into the tunnel.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

So far, crews trying to determine what’s stalling the State Route 99 tunnel machine have found a hard object more than three feet wide lodged in it.

They’ve also found metal and plastic piping. But what exactly is causing the stoppage is still unknown.

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Week In Review
1:11 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Richard Sherman Post-NFC Interview, Bertha's Troubles, And Changes At Eastside Catholic School

In Seattle, the Seahawks and Richard Sherman have ruled the headlines in the last week.
Flickr Photo/Mark Samia

A post-NFC championship game interview with Richard Sherman causes controversy. Is Seattle the "bad guy" in the Super Bowl narrative? Plus, Bertha stays stuck, and the Eastside Catholic School president steps down.

We review these stories and more with news analyst Joni Balter, Crosscut's Knute Berger and The Stranger's Eli Sanders. Plus, we hear from Live Wire host Luke Burbank.

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