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Seattle's 'Bertha' Comes Apart

Thursday, July 20, 2017

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Four years after its boring job began and three months after it was finally complete, Seattle’s “Bertha” tunnel-borer is almost completely disassembled, and the Washington State Department of Transportation is giving the world a look at the process.

In a time-lapse video recently posted to Youtube by WSDOT, crews can be seen taking Bertha apart piece by piece from behind, after the giant borer’s cutter head was removed. Built by Hitachi Zosen, the borer had a 57-foot diameter and was used in the construction of the city’s new SR 99 tunnel, the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project.

Bertha's Delay

Months after its initial launch, Bertha’s gears came grinding to a halt in an incident that’s still subject to debate and pending litigation—it either hit an underground pipe, if you believe design-build contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners, or some dirt made its way into a bearing, overheating the machine, according to WSDOT. It took two years (from December 2013 to December 2015) to fix the one-of-a-kind machine, but through 2016 and the early months of 2017, Bertha made quick work of the Seattle underground.

The big borer broke through at the end of the tunnel in early April.

Bertha, which WSDOT says is still the property of Hitachi Zosan, will now be partially recycled but mostly scrapped. The SR 99 tunnel is expected to open in early 2019.

Watch the new video:


Tagged categories: Construction; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Roads/Highways; Tunnel

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