Food & Culture

Welcoming Bertha, the World’s Biggest Tunnel Boring Machine

Advice for the new girl.

By Seattle Mag April 2, 2013


This article originally appeared in the March 2013 issue of Seattle Magazine.

The world’s largest-diameter tunnel boring machine (TBM) is travelling all the way from Osaka, Japan to dig the two-mile-long tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Named for Seattle’s first and only woman mayor, Bertha Landes (a tough groundbreaker herself), the sharp-toothed, 7,000-ton Bertha may have a little trouble busting through “the Seattle freeze.” We have some advice for fitting in and making friends.

5 tips for the boring girl
#1 Although your job will be digging up dirt, try not to fling it on anyone.

#2 Good move striking up a friendship via Twitter (@BerthadigsSR99) with that other high-profile—and not universally beloved—newcomer @Pier57Wheel. We recommend reaching out to the cool kids next (see: the pink elephant, the troll and the Space Needle).

#3 If you love dark, damp spaces, you’ll love our weather.

#4 Keep in mind: You’re not alone. Sound Transit often has fellow TBMs drilling under Seattle’s hills. Next up, Northgate to the University of Washington. Maybe you can meet up for the Seattle Underground Tour.

#5 Remember, you’ll return home someday (thanks to Hitachi Zosen Corporation’s buy-back program), which should be some comfort—and make you the darling of Seattle recycle/reuse fanatics.

This article has been updated since its original publication.


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