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Bertha could reach wall at end of tunneling route this week

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The behind-schedule project is also sort of ahead of schedule


Monday, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) announced that Bertha, the boring machine drilling the SR 99 tunnel, is just 219 feet from the finish line.

Friday, a Seattle Tunnel Partners project manager told KIRO 7 that the drill could arrive at the wall near the disassembly pit as early as this week. (Update, March 29: WSDOT has since clarified to Curbed Seattle that this doesn’t mean the drill would break through to the pit—only that it has a chance of arriving at the wall along the pit.)

Want to be there for the special day? Bertha’s reemergence won’t be open to the public, but WSDOT said in a release they’re “working on ways to share this historic moment with the public.”

They’ll be livestreaming the event and posting frequent social media updates.

While this prediction puts Bertha significantly ahead of previous estimates—most recently, that the machine would break through on April 17—the project as a whole remains a few years behind schedule.

The whole project was initially estimated to be completed by December 2015. Project delays have included a two-year halt for repairs from December 2013 through December 2015.

WSDOT estimates the project should be ready for traffic in 2019, but a representative told KIRO 7 that a 2018 opening is “possible.”

This article has been updated to reflect a more recent project update from WSDOT and a clarification directly from WSDOT from the cited KIRO article.