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January 8, 2014 at 7:20 AM

Digging down to stuck Seattle tunnel machine Bertha

The tunnel boring machine "Bertha" had just passed the 1,000-foot mark in early December before being stopped by what turned out to be a long 8-inch steel pipe  near South Jackson Street. This picture shows several concrete rings, each 6 1/2 feet wide, and the trailing gear of the giant drill in the background. (Photo by Greg Phipps / WSDOT)

The tunnel boring machine “Bertha” had just passed the 1,000-foot mark in early December before being stopped by what turned out to be a long 8-inch steel pipe near South Jackson Street. This picture shows several concrete rings, each 6 1/2 feet wide, and the trailing gear of the giant drill in the background. (Photo by Greg Phipps / WSDOT)

The Associated Press

The Transportation Department says help is on the way for the massive machine Bertha that became stuck last month while boring a tunnel under downtown Seattle.

The department said crews started drilling 5-foot wide shafts Tuesday in front of the machine.

Bertha ground to a halt on Dec. 6 after running into the 8-inch diameter pipe that had been left in the ground in 2002 after the department checked groundwater in the area.

The tunnel digger is stopped about 60 feet underground and one-tenth of the way toward completing a 1.7-mile tunnel. It will carry Highway 99 traffic and allow the removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Comments | More in General news, Government, Traffic & Transit | Topics: bertha, pipe, shafts


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