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SR 99 tunnel boring machine given a name, voice

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Courtesy WSDOT

SEATTLE — The world’s largest-diameter tunneling machine has a new name, a Twitter account, and even a sense of humor.

The Washington State Department of Transportation introduced the five-story-tall boring machine that will work on the State Route 99 tunnel to the Twitter world on Monday.

“So nice to finally have an identity,” @BerthaDigsSR99 tweeted Monday. “Maybe now the folks at the passport agency will take my application.”

Bertha’s name was chosen as part of a contest for kindergarten through 12th grade students. Proposed names had to be female and have significance to Washington state heritage, life, nature, transportation or engineering,  WSDOT officials said. Bertha was selected out of more than 150 entries, in part because Bertha Knight Landes was the first woman elected as mayor of Seattle in 1926.

The winning name was submitted by Darryl Elves’ fifth-grade class at Poulsbo Elementary and Elijah Beerbower, a second-grader at Lincoln Elementary School in Hoquim, Wash.

The large boring machine is expected to be delivered to Seattle from Japan in the spring. Tunneling will begin in the summer of 2013.

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