Big Bertha, Seattle’s famous tunnel boring machine, is stuck underground again. Bertha was running for just under a month following a two year delay to fix a broken cutter head. And the machine has taken to Twitter, as we imagine it can get lonely so far beneath the city.
A little over two weeks ago, a large sinkhole formed while Bertha was drilling the over-57-foot-diameter Highway 99 tunnel to replace the earthquake prone viaduct. No one knows exactly why it happened. Just earlier that day, a nearby Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP) barge tilted, offloading tunnel dirt into Elliot Bay and dismantling part of a dock.
The 15-foot-deep, 20-feet-wide, and 35-foot-long sinkhole was quickly filled with 250 cubic yards of concrete and sand.
But Bertha is still stuck. STP wants to start Bertha again, but the Washington State Department of Transportation (WDOT) hasn’t given them the necessary written permission to move forward yet. SDOT says they need more information.
But enough of the dismal facts and figures. And now, for something different:
The nonprofit blog Strong Towns interviewed @StuckBertha, Bertha’s unofficial Twitter account, in January. Enjoy some excerpts from their tongue-in-cheek conversation, below.
Check out the full interview on the Strong Towns blog. We all hope Bertha gets unstuck very soon.