Bertha must be real bored by now.
The world’s largest tunnel boring machine, which is digging a 1.7-mile underground tunnel in Seattle, will not resume operations until March 2015.
Bertha was damaged in December after digging just 1,000 feet and has not moved since. Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), the contractor group managing the project, said today that it will spend the next several months to access and repair the broken parts. That process includes removing the cutterhead, replacing the main bearing, and adding a more robust seal system.
The STP originally planned to open the tunnel in late 2015, but that’s been pushed back to November 2016. Still, that is within the target date set by the Washington Department of Transportation.
“We’re disappointed by this delay, but believe the schedule is moving in the right direction,” WSDOT said in a statement.
At 57.5 feet in diameter and more than 300 feet long, Bertha is named after former Seattle Mayor Bertha Knight Landes, the first female mayor of a major U.S. city. The $80 million machine began digging from the Sodo neighborhood in July and will eventually make its way to South Lake Union, replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct.