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After quicker-than-expected break, Bertha is digging again

These days, Bertha seems to get going a lot faster than expected

Last we heard, Bertha had officially made it halfway to her destination and was chilling somewhere under Pike Place Market while it took a maintenance break. Turns out, the tunnel boring machine is still in such good shape(!!!) that they cut the weeks-long break down to six days.

Workers who examined part of the round cutting face found little or no erosion. That led Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP) to conclude the 700-plus scraping bits were in good condition along the entire 57-foot, 4-inch-diameter surface, said Andrew Richardson, spokesman for the Washington State Department of Transportation.

The drill was sitting in sandy ground roughly 190 feet below First Avenue north of Pike Place Market and she’s already back at it, mining north along First. Bertha will take at least one more break but the timing and location of those stops are TBD based on soil conditions and maintenance needs.

As of Tuesday morning, she has tunneled 4,750 feet of the 9,270-foot-long tunnel drive. Between this and the quick Alaskan Way Viaduct closure, the machine is making up for lost time, though it’s got a long way to go if it wants to make all that time up.