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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 12, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Bertha prepares to bore into the Highway 99 tunnel

Department of Transportation’s publicity campaign is insulting

A large croud of WSDOT employees, contractors, press, and politicians gathers for the lowering of the rotary cutter in the backround that is being put in place in the front of the Highway 99 boring machine. The 57.5-foot-wide rotary cutter is the world’s widest. It's named Bertha in honor of Bertha Knight Landes. [Steve Ringman, The Seattle Times.]

A large croud of WSDOT employees, contractors, press, and politicians gathers for the lowering of the rotary cutter in the backround that is being put in place in the front of the Highway 99 boring machine. The 57.5-foot-wide rotary cutter is the world’s widest. It’s named Bertha in honor of Bertha Knight Landes. [Steve Ringman, The Seattle Times.]

After receiving numerous updates on Bertha, the Washington Department of Transportation’s tunnel-digging machine, and reading an invitation to “Bertha’s bon-voyage ceremony,” I have to respond.

The tunneling machine is a thing, not a female. Perhaps you’re taking “boring” too literally, such that you have to anthropomorphize this digger and treat Seattle residents like a bunch of kids at a carnival, but really, you’ve gone too far.

Digging machines are intrinsically fascinating, and the project is quite a feat; do you really have to pour sugar all over this to make it palatable?

Whose idea was this ridiculous publicity ploy? As one of the taxpayers making this project possible, I also resent the department implying that it’s doing us a big favor — “sharing a tradition” — to give us a glimpse of the machine we are paying for.

If you want to talk about tradition, this city has a long, proud tradition of carrying out massive labor- and material-intensive projects without relying on cute names or photo ops, or needing a pat on the back every time it reaches a milestone.

Judy Moise, Seattle

Comments | More in Seattle, Transportation | Topics: Bertha, digging, machine

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