Madison Park

Huge tunnel boring machine arrives in Seattle

Huge tunnel boring machine arrives in Seattle
SEATTLE -- The world's widest tunnel boring machine arrived in Seattle in pieces Tuesday aboard a ship from Japan.

The $80 million machine called Bertha was built at a factory in Osaka and is currently aboard the 472-foot Jumbo Fairpartner. The ship entered the Strait of Juan de Fuca early Tuesday morning and then was greeted into Elliott Bay by a fire boat spraying water.

After being unloaded at Terminal 46, the drilling machine will be reassembled in a pit near the waterfront to begin the year-long dig to create a two-mile tunnel under downtown Seattle.

The new section of Highway 99 replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct will have a diameter of nearly 58 feet and is scheduled to open in late 2015.

The tunnel boring machine was named Bertha in honor of Bertha Knight Landes, who was elected mayor of Seattle in 1926. The name was submitted by both a second-grade student at Lincoln Elementary School in Hoquiam and a fifth-grade class at Poulsbo Elementary School.