WSDOT: Bertha prepared to begin massive State Route 99 tunnel project

Some 5,000 people descended on the State Route 99 tunnel launch pit in downtown Seattle on Saturday for a chance...

Some 5,000 people descended on the State Route 99 tunnel launch pit in downtown Seattle on Saturday for a chance to see Bertha, the massive machine that will dig the tunnel beneath the city, up-close before she starts tunneling later this month. Guests talked to project staff, learned about the project and walked around the construction site, including one of the walkways that spans the 80-foot-deep pit where Bertha, the biggest tunnel-builder in the world, will soon start tunneling.

“This is a historic day,” Governor Jay Inslee told guests, before participating in a short ceremony to christen the machine. “When I look down into this pit, I don’t just see a big machine. I see determination, I see innovation, I see teamwork, I see a symbol of a community that worked together to move us forward.”

The event included activities designed to teach kids about science and engineering. Guests also had the opportunity to sign their name on one of the concrete segments that will form the tunnel’s walls.

Tunneling will start after final testing is complete, likely by the end of this month. The tunnel is scheduled to open to drivers in late 2015.

More information about the SR 99 Tunnel Project is available online at wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Viaduct.

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