Gov. Inslee: Bertha’s breakthrough is ‘historic’
Years after her journey began, the tunneling machine Bertha finally reached her destination Tuesday morning.
Bertha Timeline: From conception to tunnel completion
Bertha began to bore through a concrete wall at the north end of the tunnel near Sixth Avenue and Thomas Street around 11:30 a.m.
According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, the machine’s cutterhead was visible at approximately 11:26 a.m.
“This is a historic moment in our state’s transportation history,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “Innovation and perseverance are the engines that keep Washington in the forefront. There is still more work ahead but this moment is one worth celebrating.”
Crews will spend the next several days removing steel support braces that stand between Bertha and the interior of the 90-foot-deep disassembly pit. When the braces are gone, crews will drive the machine into its final position and begin cutting it into pieces for removal. As the owner of the machine, Seattle Tunnel Partners will determine which pieces could be salvaged for use on other projects or recycled.
“Today is a major construction milestone in our plan to reclaim Seattle’s waterfront,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said. “We are one step closer to taking down the viaduct to make way for a re-imagined waterfront and surrounding downtown neighborhood. We will build a waterfront for pedestrians, transit and sensible car trips without a freeway wall casting a shadow over our vision of a well-connected 21st-century city.”
Bertha had to bust through a 5-foot thick concrete wall at the receiving pit as her 9,270-foot journey came to an end.
The $3.1 billion tunnel project is scheduled to open in 2019, four years behind schedule, according to the Associated Press. Here’s what happens next.