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Bertha’s Back: Front end of broken Seattle tunnel machine lifted out of ground

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bertha2SEATTLE (AP) — Crews have lifted the scuffed and rusty disc-shaped front end of the broken tunnel-boring machine called Bertha from the ground in Seattle, hauling it out of a 120-foot-deep pit so it can be repaired.

The Seattle Times reports ( ) the process seemed to go smoothly, with the 2,000-ton machine segment emerging from the ground Monday.

A Washington State Department of Transportation official, Matt Preedy, praised the Dutch lift company involved, as well as contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners and machine maker Hitachi for devising a good lifting plan and carrying it out.

Bertha broke down in December 2013 as it worked to build a tunnel under Seattle to replace the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct.  The contractor, STP, stopped excavation about 1,000 feet into the dig after measuring increased temperatures in the tunneling machine.

While investigating the cause of the high temperatures, STP discovered damage to the machine’s seal system and contamination within the main bearing. That’s what needs to be repaired now that Bertha’s cutter is out of the ground.

The contractor hopes to start drilling again in August.


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