Construction began in July 2013 using " Bertha ", at the time the world's largest-diameter tunnel boring machine. A requirement of the Request for Proposal was that the project be substantially completed by November 2016, and that an open tunnel be created by December 2015, WSDOT said. With the machine dismantled and removed, we are now tracking tunnel progress on a new page. [60], In June 2016, the tunnel reached its lowest point, 115 feet (35 m) under Madison Street in downtown. The breakdown of the giant drill named Bertha meant the tunnel did not open until last February, and contractors and the state are now fighting in court over the cost of repairs and delays. The machine was 326 feet (99 m) long and weighed 6,700 short tons (6,100 t). However, subsequent investigations revealed that portions of the main bearing seal system were damaged, which caused the bearing to overheat during operation. [31][32][33][34], In early February 2014, as Bertha was being prepared to resume operation, workers discovered it was overheating and that a damaged main bearings seal needed to be replaced. Construction is set to begin on the largest infrastructure project in Virginia’s history. Bertha was a 17.5 m diameter tunnel boring machine built specifically for the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel project in Seattle.It was made by Hitachi Zosen Sakai Works in Osaka, Japan, and the machine’s assembly was completed in Seattle in June 2013. When will the tunnel open and what happens to the viaduct? [47] However, Hitachi Zosen general manager Soichi Takaura later stated that "there was nothing wrong with the seals in the original machine", noting that Bertha appeared to function properly before striking the well casing. [16], Hitachi Zosen held a completion ceremony for the machine, performed at the same time as the naming ceremony, in Osaka, Japan, on December 20, 2012. Bertha has bored the SR 99 Tunnel, but that is one part of the project -- which turns out to be much, much more than a mere tunnel. New Seattle Tunnel Opening Day Drive 02/04/2019 There's a snow storm today. [38] Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), the contractors overseeing the project, estimated that fixing Bertha would delay the opening of the new tunnel by an additional nine months to August 2017,[39] which was later extended to March 2018 after additional damage was discovered in June 2015. Traffic is very light. The tunnel opened to State Route 99 traffic on Feb. 4, following a weekend grand opening celebration, where the public had an opportunity to walk through the tunnel and learn more about the plans for Waterfront Seattle, a public park that will be developed along the site of the viaduct. [76][77], In January 2015, two Republican state senators introduced a bill in the Washington State Legislature to kill the project, citing Bertha and its delay in particular. Further inspection after the cutting head was removed and disassembled showed damage to the cutter head drive gears, so a new estimate of the repair time and cost was prepared. Tunnel boring was completed on April 4, 2017, with Bertha’s cutter head breaking into a disassembly vault at the tunnel’s north portal in South Lake Union. The tunnel opened to traffic in both directions just around midnight the morning of Monday, February 4. [8], Some media have also referred to the machine as "Big Bertha". Seattle used Bertha, the tunnel boring machine, to create the Highway 99 tunnel. By January 4, Bertha had traveled 1,098 feet (335 m) of its planned 9,270-foot-long (2,830 m) route from SoDo to South Lake Union. The SR 99 Tunnel is expected to open … [22], The machine began excavation of the 1.7-mile-long (2.7 km) route on July 30, 2013, with completion of the bore scheduled in 14 months' time and the tunnel opening to traffic in December 2015. The machine began excavation of the 1.7-mile-long (2.7 km) route on July 30, 2013, with completion of the bore scheduled in 14 months' time and the tunnel opening to traffic in December 2015. State transportation officials begin discussing what tolls will be implemented once the tunnel is opened. It was thought the opening date could be pushed up to October. After Bertha was disassembled, the state estimated the tunnel would open in early 2019. "A study came up with two main possibilities: tolls ranging from $1 to $2.50 at peak times  -- which would raise the $200 million as required by state law -- and a second option kept trips closer to $1 to $1.25 at peak times.A final decision has not yet been made. WSDOT says the cause of the damage is under dispute and in litigation. Now past 6,000 ft., Bertha digs into Belltown and Zone 8 of the tunnel drive", "Yesterday's progress update: Bertha has reached Zone 9 of the tunnel drive! The bill was never heard in the state senate and failed to pass the Senate Transportation Committee. [15] Seattle Tunnel Partners is a joint venture of New York-based Dragados USA, a wholly owned [18] [19] Bertha was shipped to the Port of Seattle in 41 sections, arriving on April 2, 2013. ©2020 FOX Television Stations, from SAT 6:00 AM PST until SUN 10:00 PM PST, Clallam County, Grays Harbor County, Jefferson County, King County, Lewis County, Mason County, Pierce County, Skagit County, Snohomish County, Thurston County, Whatcom County, from FRI 10:00 AM PST until FRI 8:00 PM PST, Western Whatcom County, Western Skagit County, Admiralty Inlet Area, North Coast, Central Coast, from FRI 8:21 AM PST until SAT 4:00 AM PST, West Slopes North Cascades and Passes, West Slopes North Central Cascades and Passes, West Slopes South Central Cascades and Passes, LIVE MAP: COVID-19 Cases in Washington, Around the World, US judge won't block Seattle from clearing homeless camp in Cal Anderson Park, Vice President Mike Pence, Karen Pence receive COVID-19 vaccine publicly to ‘build confidence’, Uber pledges 10 million free or discounted rides for people seeking COVID-19 vaccination, One person dead in Auburn police shooting, authorities say, 'It was a huge surprise:' Some Washington teachers react to state's new push to get kids back in school, Eleven people indicted in drug trafficking conspiracy in Pierce, King and Snohomish counties, King County deputies investigating suspicious death along SR 18, Deputies surprise mother of two with car after learning she walked miles to work each day, 2020: Things that changed in the tumultuous year may never go back to the way they were. “The tunnel is very, very deep in the middle, and adding downtown exits was just impractical with the alignment of the tunnel,” says Brian Russell, SR 99 project manager for HNTB Corp., which is the lead designer on the tunnel project and part of a design-build team that also includes Dragados USA and Tutor Perini Corp. [1] It was made by Hitachi Zosen Sakai Works in Osaka, Japan, and the machine's assembly was completed in Seattle in June 2013. In August 2015, a consortium of eight insurers filed a lawsuit against STP in order to avoid a $143 million payout to cover the cost of repairs to the boring machine. Bertha resumed tunnel boring on December 22, 2015, but was stopped in early January 2016 after a tethered barge in Elliott Bay damaged nearby piers and a sinkhole opened near the project site. Bertha (tunnel boring machine) Last updated September 19, 2019. [11][12], Bertha was designed and manufactured by Hitachi Zosen Sakai Works of Osaka, Japan, and is the world's largest earth pressure balance tunnel boring machine,[13] at a cutterhead diameter of 57.5 feet (17.5 m) across. The pipes' locations were known to WSDOT and the agency thought they had been removed, while STP admitted in a 2019 lawsuit that they had knowledge of the pipe prior to excavation. [20][21], Bertha had a special pre-programmed melody that played for workers inside the machine and those monitoring the tunnel-borer. WSDOT disputed this, and stated that the well casing was not responsible. Digging briefly resumed on February 23, but was halted again for maintenance and inspections before resuming full operations on April 29. [43][44][45], In June 2015, Seattle Tunnel Partners sued to force insurers to payout on the $85 million insurance policy to cover repairs needed after Bertha's cutting teeth were damaged in a collision with a steel pipe in December 2013. No problem? Inslee halts Bertha work after sinkhole forms near project", "She's ba-ack! That leaves crews to finish installing and testing the $3.2 billion tunnel's advanced operational and safety systems.So when will the tunnel open? [7] The winning entry, which was submitted by two elementary schools in Poulsbo and Hoquiam, was selected in December 2012. [78], Resumption of digging and subsequent activities, Washington State Department of Transportation, "Damaged Main Bearing Seals Cause of Bertha Overheating, Shutdown", "Bertha inches ahead, viaduct closure begins, traffic slows", "Bertha's breakthrough just 'halftime' for tunnel project", "Tunnel machine Bertha expected to bust out of vault this week", "Bertha's woes grind on: more delay, higher cost for Highway 99 tunnel", "SR 99 tunneling machine tweets her name: Bertha", "World's largest tunneling machine gets name, face, voice", "Big Bertha, world's largest tunnel-boring machine, arrives in Seattle", "Seattle's Big Bertha Tunneling Machine Is Finally Back on Track", "Thanks to Bertha, Sound Transit nixes nicknames for its own tunnel machines", "Bad news Bertha overshadows successful sisters", "The World's Largest EPB Shield Tunneling Machine", "Big Bertha – world's largest tunnel boring machine – facing big Seattle challenge", "Bertha tunnel-boring machine arrives to make big splash in Seattle", "SR 99 Bored Tunnel Alternative Design-Build Project", "Becoming Bertha: the journey begins for the world's largest tunneling machine", "Testing of the SR 99 tunneling machine continues in Japan", "SR 99 tunneling machine problem nearly fixed", "Mammoth tunnel drilling machine arrives in Seattle", "World's largest tunneling machine arrives by ship in Seattle April 2", "Did you know Bertha whistles while she works? [9][10], In March 2016, regional transit agency Sound Transit decided to drop names for its own tunnel boring machines, used for smaller light rail tunnels, citing unwanted association and confusion with Bertha, especially the machine "Brenda" used on the Northgate Link Extension and University Link Tunnel. [61] A maintenance stop from June 23 to July 18 was conducted under Spring Street, replacing 33 of the cutterhead's teeth. [5] On January 6, 2016, Bertha broke through the concrete access vault and began digging through normal soil. The viaduct first opened in 1953 and by the end of the 20th century, the raised portion of state Route 99 was carrying 110,000 cars per day through the city. Yes, Bertha's on the move once again", "Tunnel machine Bertha moves 300 feet, reaches 'safe haven, "Viaduct closure coming once Bertha's ready to dig", "Viaduct closure ends, Bertha to make pit stop", "June 13 project update: Bertha passes the half-mile mark", "Bertha restarts early — with 33 new teeth (out of 750)", "New tunnel? Transportation officials explain the decision to replace the viaduct with a tunnel: This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. And what happens to the Alaskan Way Viaduct? [67], The two-year stoppage of Bertha has been criticized as an example of a political boondoggle by opponents. Poor Bertha.North America's largest tunnel-boring machine, measuring 57.5 feet in diameter, hasn't moved more than 4 feet along its 1.7-mile route since Dec. 7. On April 4, the world's largest tunnel boring machine broke through to the open air after almost four years underground. [35] In December 2014, workers began digging a 120-foot-deep (37 m) pit in order to lift Bertha's front end up to street level for repairs,[36] but were delayed when groundwater pumping caused visible damage to nearby South King Street and some of its neighboring buildings. Over 5,000 members of the public, along with Governor Jay Inslee, were present for the machine's dedication a week prior to the beginning of excavation. [42], The front end of the machine was lowered back into the access pit for reassembly in a four-lift process beginning with the repaired cutter drive on August 24, 2015. Governor Jay Inslee halted all work on the tunnel on January 14, 2016, citing concern over public safety after the sinkhole incident. After the tunnel is finished, crews will close the Alaskan Way Viaduct for several weeks to realign the highway to the tunnel. 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