The State Route 99 Tunnel Project

Credit 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. 

It's journey to the center of the earth underneath downtown Seattle began in July 2013, and since then the project has seen its fair share of successes and failures.

Follow the progress of the $3 billion megaproject with KUOW.

In this November 2014 photo, construction crews are building walls for the future northbound roadway inside the SR 99 tunnel.
Flickr Photo/WSDOT (CC-BY-NC-ND)

This week, President Obama interrupts Week In Review to talk about about the North Korea hacking attack on Sony, but not before we recap the news: Will the legislature will let Governor Inslee break his no-new-taxes pledge? The tunnel project is "70 percent done" -- what? How does a Seattleite say “bagel,” and is it correct? Bill Radke welcomes Essex Porter, Joni Balter and Deborah Wang to the panel to discuss the week's news.

Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien, longtime opponent of the waterfront tunnel, has been pushing Washington State Department of Transportation officials to be more transparent.
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Pioneer Square sank more than an inch, and Bertha the giant tunnel boring machine is still stuck, but state officials are putting on a happy face.

Washington State Department of Transportation officials returned to the Seattle City Council Monday to discuss worst-case scenarios for the waterfront tunnel project. Bertha, stuck under downtown Seattle for nearly a year, was mid-rescue when officials realized that buildings were settling deeper into the ground.

Yikes.

Real Change field organizer Neil Lampi says the sticky door to the closet where they store unsold newspapers became so stuck, they had to take it off its hinges. He says he's "put two and two together," and now blames the soil settlement in Pioneer Square
KUOW Photo/Joshua McNichols

Pioneer Square has stopped settling, or so say Washington State Department of Transportation officials. They’re monitoring 20 buildings in this old downtown Seattle quarter, some of which have sunk up to 1.4 inches since 2010. But some building owners are nervous, especially in light of news that effort to rescue Bertha, the massive tunnel boring machine, may be causing further sinking.

WSDOT webcam

  Much of Seattle's Pioneer Square neighborhood has sunk an inch or more, according to a map released by state transportation officials on Thursday.

The sinking is greatest next to a 120-foot-deep pit being dug to rescue the broken-down tunnel machine known as Bertha. There, the ground has sunk 1.4 inches.

Areas more than a quarter mile away from the pit have sunk by half an inch or more.

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

Ross Reynolds talks to Lynn Peterson, secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation, about delays to the Seattle tunnel project to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

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)

The Alaskan Way Viaduct is safe to drive on, state officials told the Seattle City Council on Monday afternoon. That follows the weekend’s news that the viaduct may be sinking more than expected.

Just west of the viaduct, a giant wood and metal wall shielded public viewing of a giant pit where Bertha, a boring drill, has been stuck for nearly a year. Bertha is supposed to bore through Seattle, creating a tunnel to replace the Viaduct.

Flickr Photo/WSDOT

Transportation officials say a stretch of the Alaskan Way Viaduct settled an inch last month.

They told state legislators Friday that there is no risk to public safety from the newly discovered subsidence of the elevated highway. KUOW's John Ryan reports.

TRANSCRIPT

The viaduct sank an inch during a two-week span in November, right next to a giant shaft that's being dug near King Street and Yesler Way.

That access shaft is needed to dig up and repair the tunneling machine known as Bertha.

KUOW Photo/Ann Dornfeld

Although the tunnel boring machine known as “Bertha” is at a standstill, work is still underway to replace Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Flickr Photo/Nantaskart!

One of the two companies attempting to dig a highway tunnel beneath the Seattle waterfront has won an $80 million dispute with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

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

The builders of the tunnel machine stuck beneath the Seattle waterfront don’t just plan to repair the world’s largest tunnel machine.

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.

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