Probably not, but you gotta do what you gotta do, and right now, that means digging a 120-foot pit so crews can unearth the $80 million beast of burden to try and fix the world’s most temperamental boring machine.
As you know, Bertha, the 6,700-ton behemoth, has been stuck in the muck since last December, though hopes spring eternal that the darn thing will again, at least by the start of next year’s baseball season, begin to turn its massive 57.5-foot wide cutter head.
Crews have begun digging the pit. Seattle Tunnel Partners say an excavator was put into place last Friday and that over the course of the next few months some 20,000 cubic yards of soil and glacial silt will be removed to forge the 120-feet-deep by 80-foot-wide pile-supported pit.
Since there are several other construction projects underway near the pit, STP said there will be days when excavation is stopped, but that crews will continue to lower groundwater in the areas around Bertha and prepare for a crane that will be used to lift her to the surface later this fall.
The viaduct, of which we’ve been talking about tearing down for more than 13 years now – ever since the Ash Wednesday quake on February 28, 200 – was to have been torn down in 2016. But because of the breakdown of Bertha’s seal system and main bearing, demolition won’t happen until 2017, if we’re lucky. As to when the $2 billion 1.7-mile waterfront tunnel will be ready to go, who can really say?
Despite Bertha’s problems, construction continues on the north portal of the Highway 99 toll tunnel where it will emerge next to Seattle Center and the Gates Foundation. Concrete girders will provide a lid for the tunnel’s cut-and-cover portion, where four lanes of traffic will ascend toward Aurora Avenue North.