Getting to Know Seattle: Deconstructing Big Bertha

My friend Louise, a Seattle-ite for the past 54 years, finds the most randomly interesting things to do. On Tuesday we went for a tour of the billion dollar plus, multi-year public works project to bore a new highway tunnel along the waterfront, take down the decrepit Highway 99 viaduct, and create various public parks, walkways, street access points, to the redeveloped area. Big Bertha is the multi-ton tunnel boring machine that has done the biggest part of the work. Bertha and the structures that supported her forward momentum are now being deconstructed.

We were the only two people on the tour, which was led by a U.S. DOT employee named James. I asked James if he came to Seattle specifically to work on this massive project, and he said no. He came to Seattle to be a musician. Clearly working for the DOT is his day job. He was great, and gave a lively and informative description of what’s happening. He even offered to take our picture with the construction site in the background, an invitation to which we readily agreed.

Part of relishing city living is engaging with how the city is changing. Much of the new waterfront transportation system will be operational by 2019, with the final target for full completion about five years away.

2 thoughts on “Getting to Know Seattle: Deconstructing Big Bertha

  1. A slight correction, our guide is an employee and obviously a good will ambassador of the Washington Department of Transportation or “wsdot” the managing entity of the tunnel project. WSDOT will be one of the principal parties in a tangle of lawsuits which will go on for years into the future — due to the two-year unfortunate delay in the boring operation. A story too long and convoluted to explain here, and probably somewhat “boring” as well. But we are making history with our tunnel, and I intend to live long enough to take a drive through it!
    Fellow City explorer, Louise.

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