Bertha

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

How Bertha Compares To Other Mega Projects

May 2, 2014
Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to professor Wendy Haynes of Bridgewater State University about the problems associated with billion-dollar mega-projects.

Bertha Costs: Who Will Pick Up The Tab?

Apr 29, 2014
Two workers walk through the first rings of the tunnel toward Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks with Lynn Peterson, Washington state transportation secretary, about the estimated $125 million in extra costs for Bertha's tunneling delay.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

A tunnel machine is set to resume digging beneath the streets of Seattle in mid-June.

No, it's not Bertha. It's Brenda.

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

David Hyde speaks with former transportation secretary Doug MacDonald about the recent budget issues with Seattle’s tunnel project.

KUOW Photo/John Ryan

State transportation officials say the tunnel machine now stuck beneath the downtown Seattle waterfront won't resume tunneling for another 10 months. Digging is now forecast to resume in March 2015.

Bertha's Progress

Mar 21, 2014
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct sank 1.25 inches in November, prompting state officials to consider stopping a water pumping project nearby.
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.

In this Nov. 20, 2008, file photo, the execution chamber at the Washington State Penitentiary is shown as viewed from the witness gallery, in Walla Walla, Wash.
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.

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.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in the KUOW studios.
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.

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