Bertha

Bertha The Boring Machine
4:55 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Tunnel Company Says Bertha Rescue Is Already A Month Behind Schedule

Placing the concrete pilings, as seen in this conceptual drawing, is taking longer than expected.
Seattle Tunnel Partners

Just six weeks after the contractor managing the State Route 99 tunnel project laid out its timeline for getting back to digging, the company said it’s about a month behind on repairs to its tunneling machine.

Crews are working to burrow down from the surface to where the machine known as Bertha is sitting idle. An early step is to sink a circle of interlocking concrete pillars that will line the access shaft and protect surrounding structures, but that’s proving harder than what the company was planning for in mid-June.

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Bertha Blues
3:04 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

Seattle Tunnel Partners: Bertha Won't Be Eating Dirt Again Until Next Year

Gabriel Spitzer

Tunneling beneath downtown Seattle likely won’t resume for almost another year, according to Seattle Tunnel Partners, the company managing the project.

Delays have mounted in repairing Bertha, the tunneling machine that has been at a standstill with damaged parts since December.  

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A Different Kind of Bore
12:27 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Bertha Rescue Plan On Hold While Archaeologists Check Soil For Sites

In 1884, the intersection of First Avenue South and Main Street looked like this. Bertha now sits 60 feet below the same area.
Peterson and Brothers Museum of History and Industry, Seattle

The plan to dig a shaft 12 stories deep to fix Bertha, the Seattle tunnel boring machine, has been put on hold while archaeologists make sure crews won’t dig through important historical sites. 

On Thursday, workers started boring approximately 60 holes, each about as wide as a grapefruit, and digging as deep as 40 feet down through layers of Seattle's floor, which, at the moment, is also Bertha's ceiling. 

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Bertha Blues
3:56 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Six-Month Delay 'Optimistic' For Seattle Tunnel

File image
WSDOT

An official for the contractor boring the Seattle Highway 99 tunnel says a six month delay in the stalled construction is a "slightly optimistic" forecast.

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Bertha Blues
12:22 am
Sat February 22, 2014

Seattle Tunnel Builders To Dig Shaft In Front Of Bertha For Repairs

File image
WSDOT

The Washington state Transportation Department says that, as expected, the contractors digging a highway tunnel under downtown Seattle will repair a seal system on the tunneling machine by digging a shaft in front of it.

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Bertha Blues
12:39 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Expert: Bertha's Woes Are No 'Big Dig'

WSDOT

The prospect of taking the State Route 99 tunneling machine known as Bertha offline for as much as half a year is not good news for the company operating it. But one Seattle tunneling expert says it could be worse.

“It’s really a problem with the machine itself. I think it’s something that can be repaired,” said the University of Washington’s Joseph Wartman. “And I think in a couple of years when the tunnel is open, people will have forgotten about this.”

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Bertha Blues
4:17 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

Contractor: Evidence Could Put Taxpayers On The Hook For Bertha Cost Overruns

Seattle Tunnel Partners

Washington transportation officials and the private contractor operating the tunneling machine known as Bertha disagree on what’s holding up progress on the Highway 99 tunnel project. Neither had definitive answers, but appearing together Tuesday at a news conference, it became clear they’re leaning toward conflicting theories.

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Bertha, The Boring Machine
9:24 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

WSDOT: Fixing Bertha 'Will Take Months'

This screen grab shows a crew member clearing away clogging dirt from the cutterhead.
WSDOT

The state contractor hasn’t yet decided how to fix the broken seal near Bertha’s bearing, but “either way, this process will take months,” said the state Department of Transportation late Monday.

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Bertha, The Boring Machine
2:27 pm
Fri February 7, 2014

Bertha: Broken, Not Blocked, Says WSDOT

This screen grab shows a crew member clearing away clogging dirt from the cutterhead.
WSDOT

Remember that big steel pipe — eight inches wide, part of an old well?

The Washington State Department of Transportation never actually accused that pipe of blocking Bertha, but it was definitely a prime suspect.

But on Friday, WSDOT said the pipe isn’t, and never was, the problem.

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Bertha, The Boring Machine
9:11 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Seattle Tunneling Operations On Hold Yet Again

"Survey says, 'This is one big tunnel."
WSDOT

Seattle's massive tunneling operation is on hold yet again due to ongoing problems with the world's largest boring machine.

After a seven-week stoppage, crews restarted the tunneling machine earlier this week and moved it forward about two feet. Washington state's Department of Transportation said Friday that the machinery showed above-normal temperature readings when that movement occurred.

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Bertha, The Boring Machine
9:54 pm
Tue January 28, 2014

Tunneling Machine Bertha Moves Ahead 2 Feet

Taken on Jan. 2 during a visual inspection of the SR 99 tunneling machine's excavation chamber, this photo shows a steel pipe protruding through an opening in the machine's cutterhead.
WSDOT

A Washington Transportation Department spokeswoman says the giant machine digging a highway tunnel under downtown Seattle has advanced two more feet, far enough to allow crews to build the next concrete ring of the tunnel.

Tuesday's progress was the first for the machine in nearly two months, since it stalled Dec. 6 some 60 feet underground.

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Bertha, The Boring Machine
11:05 am
Wed January 22, 2014

3-Foot Chunk Stuck In Bertha, Seattle Tunnel Machine

On Jan. 5, 2014, crews started drilling 5-foot-diameter metal shafts in front of the Bertha.
WSDOT

Crews have found a hard object more than 3 feet wide lodged in the tunneling machine that's currently stalled 60 feet under the city of Seattle, officials said Wednesday.

The large object is either a boulder or piece of concrete that got stuck within the massive spokes of the machine called Bertha, said state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Laura Newborn. Crews have also found metal and plastic piping in the machine but have not concluded what exactly has been causing problems for the machine.

"None of these things in and of themselves is enough to slow the machine down," Newborn said.

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Transportation
10:32 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Senator: Seattle Should Pay For Tunnel Cost Overruns

SR 99 tunnel crews drill to look for obstruction.
WSDOT

A leading Republican in the state Senate says Seattle taxpayers should foot the bill for any potential cost overruns on the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project.

The machine digging a tunnel to replace the elevated highway along Seattle's waterfront has been stuck for more than a month, raising concerns that more funds will be needed for that $1.4 billion project.

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Bertha, The Boring Machine
9:44 am
Wed January 8, 2014

Crews Clearing Path For Bertha, The Blocked Boring Machine

The steel pipe struck by the SR 99 tunneling machine is seen. The 57-foot-long section of steel pipe was pulled from the ground after it was struck by Bertha.
WSDOT

The Washington Transportation Department says crews have completed the second of four planned exploratory 5-foot-wide shafts being dug in front of a massive machine that got stuck last month while boring a tunnel under downtown Seattle.

Spokeswoman Laura Newborn says the shafts are being dug in hopes of identifying any metal in the path of the machine known as Bertha and removing as much of any such obstruction as possible.

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Bertha, The Boring Machine
2:00 pm
Fri January 3, 2014

What's Blocking Bertha? Probably A Steel Pipe The State Put There, WSDOT Says

WSDOT

A steel pipe that the state Department of Transportation itself had installed back in 2002 sits in the way of Bertha underneath Seattle, WSDOT said on Friday, and it may be the cause of the weeks-long work stoppage.

An inspection on Jan. 2 “showed an 8-inch-diameter steel pipe protruding through one of the many openings in the cutterhead,” WSDOT said, adding the agency had installed the pipe, a well casing, in the wake of the 2001 Nisqually quake to better understand groundwater flow. 

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