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The Tunnel Machine Is Seriously Fucked

State Admits a Fix Could Take Till Summer

The Tunnel Machine Is Seriously Fucked
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The Washington State Department of Transportation is finally admitting that fixing the broken tunnel-boring machine known as Bertha could take until summer. That presents a major setback for replacing the dangerously decrepit Alaskan Way Viaduct and reignites controversy that the $4.2 billion megaproject will run behind schedule and over budget.

After Bertha had been stuck for two months, WSDOT explained in an announcement on February 10 that it must replace broken seals on the machine's cutter head in a "complicated process... that will take months." Officials may have to dig a shaft more than six stories deep to access the machine or dismantle key components from the inside out.

As of press time, WSDOT still, despite repeated requests from The Stranger, refused to explain exactly how far behind schedule they are or whether it will affect the budget. (Tunneling was also delayed for a month in 2013 during a labor dispute.)

The machine came to a halt in early December. At first, a tweet from Bertha's official account insisted the machine wasn't stuck—nor malfunctioning—at all, declaring, "I'm working fine, but have encountered an obstruction."

Then last Friday, officials conceded that Bertha was not obstructed, but damaged. The seals around the central bearing were busted, and they didn't know if the $5 million bearing itself was damaged, too.

Maybe this will all be sorted out quickly at minimal cost, but thus far, the state's track record is obfuscation, growing delays, and financing shortfalls—so a speedy, affordable fix would be a dramatic aberration. recommended

 

Comments (7) RSS

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5pm somewhere 1
I predict they'll leave it there stuck permanently and un-fixable, build a surface street to replace traffic, then 20 years from now someone will get a bright idea to dig a tunnel, the city will buy a 500 billion dollar tunnel digging machine that will then start digging only to run into Bertha. Hahaha, it's funny because it's true. the Seattle way.
Posted by 5pm somewhere on February 12, 2014 at 2:52 PM · Report this
2
Lets remember that the tunnel was a stupid politicsl decision. The engineers said not to do it for exactly the reasons why the machine is now stuck. Fuck the politicians who want only the glory of successful projects but lie about why this has become a multibillion dollar failure.
Posted by Realist who hates paul on February 13, 2014 at 3:37 AM · Report this
3
Mayor McGuinn was right all along.
Posted by hermanbubbert on February 13, 2014 at 8:23 AM · Report this
4
Hey assholes! Get your asshole heads out of yours and each others asshole assholes! Bertha is an evil bitch. She's the evilest of evil bitches ever. Bertha is a killer. You assholes let her do her thing, she will murder Seattle. If you assholes think Seattle is worth saving, put Bertha down.
Posted by Wells on February 13, 2014 at 9:35 PM · Report this
5
Look assholes, whoever reads that last disrespectful
regard for you assholes, cowardly ignoring danger, you idiots! !!DANGER!!
=DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!!=
=BERTHA TUNNEL FAILURE!!=
=HIGH PROBABILITY=
YET YOU assholes (now reading) are so
fucking SOLD OUT on HORRIBLE ENGINEERING
YOU won't question basic fucking physics.
Seattlers, YOU are so fucked.
=BERTHA CAN BE STOPPED=

=BOX CUT/COVER/SEAWALL=
Still possible
More stable
No threat to buildings
Manages traffic better
Manages water table flow better
Better utility relocation/access
Better emergency escape/faster
Better Seawall actually necessary
Better spawning & salmonids.
Now you know why I say
Seattlers are assholes
Way too many assholes
who think of themselves
as 'Seattlites' lah-lah setting things afire.
afire! afire!
Assholes watching a fire.

Posted by Wells on February 14, 2014 at 5:41 PM · Report this
6 Comment Pulled (Trolling) Comment Policy
7
Just wondering if the post was pulled for trolling or for an obscenity, say calling certain conservative or liberal leaders in highway and transit planning departments bastards?
Posted by Wells on February 17, 2014 at 1:34 PM · Report this

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