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This fall’s big decision: what to name the world’s largest-diameter tunneling machine

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Date:  Monday, October 22, 2012

Contact: KaDeena Yerkan, Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program,206-805-2846, (cell) 206-795-1876 (Seattle)

Contest asks students to name the machine that will dig the SR 99 tunnel

SEATTLE – Here’s a riddle for the kids of Washington state: What do you call the record-breaking, dirt-chomping, future-changing machine that will begin tunneling beneath downtown Seattle next summer?

Answer: You tell us.

The Washington State Department of Transportation kicked off a statewide contest today for kindergarten through 12th grade students to name the machine that will dig the State Route 99 tunnel to replace the waterfront section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Crews in Japan are putting the finishing touches on the machine, which – at five stories tall – will be the world’s largest to date. The winning name will be painted on the machine and the contest winner will be invited to attend the dedication event next year in Seattle.

“This project will be a great benefit for future generations, and that’s why we’re turning to the next generation to help name it,” said Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “We want to get students across the state excited about this impressive engineering feat underway in their own backyard.”

Each entry must include a proposed name for the machine and a 200-word-or-less description of why they chose it. Entries are due by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13. Check WSDOT’s website for contest details, rules and restrictions.

There are three ways to enter:

  • Online at
  • In person at Milepost 31, 211 First Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98104.
  • By mail at Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, 999 Third Ave., Suite 2424, Seattle, WA 98104.

The winner will be announced in December, when project officials travel to Japan and Seattle Tunnel Partners takes ownership of the completed SR 99 tunneling machine. For more information about the SR 99 Tunnel Project, visit


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