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Bertha arrived in Seattle on April 2

Sixty years ago this week, Seattleites welcomed the State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct to the city’s downtown waterfront. On Tuesday, April 2, the waterfront again welcomed a hulking guest: Bertha, the five-story-tall tunneling machine that will clear the way to the viaduct’s removal in 2016.

The ship carrying the machine that will dig the SR 99 tunnel beneath downtown Seattle entered Elliott Bay on Tuesday, April 2, after a two-week journey from the manufacturing plant in Osaka, Japan. The arrival of the $80 million machine will allow crews to begin offloading it in preparation for tunneling this summer.

Built in Osaka by Japanese firm Hitachi Zosen Corporation, Bertha is owned by Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), the Washington State Department of Transportation’s contractor for the tunnel project. She was taken apart into 41 pieces, the largest weighing about 900 tons, before being loaded on the Jumbo Fairpartner in March. The Fairpartner started its 5,000 mile journey from Osaka to Seattle on March 19. 

A map of locations where the public can view the machine is available on our Bertha pageWe will also have a live webcam pointed at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 46, once Bertha's ship has berthed, so you can watch the next chapter in her story unfold from anywhere. Frequent updates will continue to come via a Twitter account we launched on Bertha’s behalf in December.