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Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 26, 2014 at 1:21 PM

Bertha: Call it quits

BERTHA’S BROKEN SEALS: The $80 million tunnel-boring machine is suffering from damage to the seals that are supposed to protect its $5 million main bearing. But before it even got to Seattle, the same seals were a problem. Workers in Japan discovered damage and ended up taking Bertha apart for repairs. (Mark Nowlin / The Seattle Times).

While the tunnel to replace the viaduct may have appeared to be a bright idea, it now is appearing to be more of a folly [“Bertha’s big troubles started in Japan,” Local News, Feb. 25]. Plagued by problems from the start — seals failed during initial testing in Japan — it has only managed to travel 1,025 feet of the 1.7 miles needed for the tunnel.

In one respect, the Seattle Tunnel Partners may be fortunate it broke down where it did because they have access to be able to dig a pit to remove the cutting head to repair the seals.

But someone needs to ask the bigger question: How are you going to perform that same level of repair when the machine is deep under the city beneath buildings? It would be a little hard to dig a pit in the middle of a building. Maybe they should quit before they take the taxpayers for a ride.

Ron Hopper, Carnation

0 Comments | More in Bertha drill | Topics: alaskan way viaduct, Bertha, Ron Hopper

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