Dec. 22 project update: Bertha tunnels into next phase of testing

Posted on Dec 22 2015 10:15 AM
The SR 99 tunneling machine entered its next phase of testing today near Pier 48, moving forward and installing a tunnel ring at the bottom of the 120-foot-deep pit crews built to access and repair the machine. Seattle Tunnel Partners plans to tunnel a short distance further in the access pit tunnel before giving crews a break for the holidays. 
After the holidays, STP plans to mine out of the access pit toward a planned maintenance stop 450 feet to the north. Along the way crews will mine slowly while installing tunnel rings and continuing to run tests. When the machine reaches the maintenance stop – essentially an underground block of concrete just south of Colman Dock – crews will perform maintenance and make final adjustments before diving beneath the viaduct.
Tunneling under the viaduct will require a full closure of SR 99 through downtown for approximately two weeks. The contractor’s latest projections show that the closure will occur in March, but the actual closure date will depend on Bertha’s progress and the state cannot verify the contractor's schedule. Details will be added to our newly launched #99closure page as the closure approaches.
STP and Bertha’s manufacturer, Hitachi Zosen, are responsible for the repair effort, including the schedule. While the machine was under repair, STP continued essential work at the future tunnel portals, including construction of ramp and highway connections, and the buildings that will house tunnel operations.  
STP crews halted tunneling in December 2013 after the machine overheated. After an investigation, they discovered damage to the seal system and determined it needed to be replaced along with the main bearing. The cause of the damage has not been determined. Responsibility for costs associated with the delay will be determined through the process outlined in the tunnel contract.
Backfill time-lapse video
Below is a new time-lapse video showing STP's work to backfill the access pit. Crews finished backfilling the pit over the weekend.
Previous Updates

For earlier program updates, please visit our archive page.