This is the big red crane thats supposed to hoist Berthas cutter head out of the completed pit.
  • Washington State Department of Transportation
  • This is the big red crane that's supposed to hoist Bertha's cutter head out of the completed pit.

Friday news dump! The Washington State Department of Transportation has announced that its contractor has reached the bottom of Bertha's rescue pit.

"Crews removed the final scoop of soil from the pit on Friday, Jan. 30," the update reads. "Approximately 20,000 cubic yards of material was removed from the ground over the course of excavation, which began in mid-October."

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Now that they've hit a depth of 120 feet, crews are going to start building a "concrete cradle" at the pit bottom. Bertha, however, still has to dig through the pit's 20-foot concrete wall so she can actually be rescued. WSDOT seems to be managing expectations by adding a qualifier about her ability to do so. If she can't "digest" the concrete, WSDOT says, the contractor will create an escape hatch for the tunnel boring machine from inside the pit. Then crews will use a giant red crane to pull the cutter head out.

WSDOT says that dewatering will continue during repairs, and that the ground around the rescue pit appears stable—for now.

Oh, and if you're so inclined, you can watch a WSDOT-narrated replay of the whole nail-biting rescue pit operation here. Good times, good times.