WSDOT will monitor ground around Bertha, viaduct and downtown Seattle
The Washington State Department of Transportation is trying to quell anxiety over Bertha’s impending trip under downtown Seattle and the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
In a new video published by WSDOT, the department explains that “every square inch” where Bertha is tunneling under — two miles long and half a mile wide, 15 feet below the surface — will be monitored using “state-of-the-art” methods. The transportation department has hired Soldata to do the job. Soldata has monitored a range of projects across the globe, including rail tunnels in Barcelona and London.
There are about 4,000 monitoring points that have been spread throughout downtown — on top of buildings, under pavement, and other points to mark where levels are currently. If there is any movement registered between them, Soldata and WSDOT will know, and they can verify if there is any correlation to Bertha’s tunneling.
Bertha’s trip will begin on Friday, April 29, prompting the closure of Highway 99 for at least two weeks. It means at least 90,000 daily commuters will need to find an alternate commute.
WSDOT official have noted that there is no way to shut down a major highway, such as the viaduct, and not cause considerable disruptions to neighboring roads and freeways. Drivers got a preview of this in 2011 when the viaduct was closed down for nine days. Downtown roads were flooded with commuters who normally would have traveled the viaduct. I-5 also saw far more traffic than usual during peak travel times. This will stretch out morning and evening commute times — plan ahead.