Bertha cutter aboard the Jumbo Fairweather. Credit: WSDOT Flickr
Over the weekend the Seattle waterfront was lined with spectators welcoming a heavy lift ship offloading a hulking giant: Bertha, the five-story-tall, 6,700 ton, world record winning tunneling machine that will dig a $2 billion 4-lane automotive tunnel beneath downtown Seattle.
Jumbo Shipping’s heavylift vessel M/V Fairpartner carried the $80 million machine on a two week passage from Japan. “We’re entering a very exciting phase of the project,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee. “This brings us one step closer to replacing the seismically vulnerable Alaskan Way Viaduct.”
Built in Osaka by Japanese firm Hitachi Zosen Corporation, Bertha is owned by Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), the Washington State Department of Transportation’s contractor for the tunnel project. She was taken apart into 41 pieces, the largest weighing about 900 tons, before being loaded on the Fairpartner.
“Can’t see land yet, but even from here it smells delicious,” @BerthaDigsSR99 tweeted as she neared the Strait of Juan de Fuca last week. “Trying to convince the captain to stop for a quick bite, but he’s all business.”
Offloading crews must work around regular port activities, so there could be periods of inactivity or times when the Fairpartner has to leave her spot at the terminal to make room for an incoming cargo ship. Bertha is expected to start drilling operations this summer and will be completed late next year. The tunnel is expected to open to traffic in early 2016.
Click HERE to read the original gCaptain article with more photos and infographics.
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