Earlier this week, the Washington State Department of Transportation announced that Bertha, the tunnel-boring machine that dug the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel, has started coming apart.
The cutterhead alone, weighing more than 900 tons and measuring 57.5 feet tall, will need more than 35 lifts to get out of the pit. As of Wednesday morning, four of the cutterhead’s eight spokes have been removed.
The machine got into position for disassembly late last month, a couple of weeks after it first emerged. The 8,000-ton machine needs to be taken apart for removal and carted away in pieces of no more than 20 tons each. Because STP owns the machine, they’re the ones to dismantling the machine, and are entitled to any salvage value.
WSDOT said it could take up to five months to completely dismantle the drill.
Watch the first piece of the cutterhead leaving the machine—and then leaving the pit—below.
Bonus video content: WSDOT posted a video last week speaking with the workers who worked long hours (for a couple of years longer than anticipated) to get the machine through the tunnel route.
Bertha officially finished the length of the two-mile tunnel on April 4—a few years behind the original schedule, which estimated the tunnel would open in December 2015.
Current project estimates have the tunnel opening for traffic in early 2019.
This article has been updated to reflect a more recent count of spokes removed.