‘Bertha’ updates: Ship with tunnel machine now off West Seattle

(UPDATED LATE AFTERNOON with more views)

(Newest photo: 1:05 pm cameraphone view from Jack Block Park)
10:45 AM: The Jumbo Fairpartner, a heavy-lift ship carrying the custom-built Highway 99 tunnel machine nicknamed “Bertha,” is approaching Seattle – so we’re going on Bertha watch. For its latest position, check this MarineTraffic.com link – it’s traveling down the west side of Whidbey Island as we type this. Here’s the official WSDOT page with Bertha background and links – the state promises a live webcam as Bertha’s ship approaches its berth at Terminal 46. If you use Twitter, follow @BerthaDigsSR99. More shortly.

11:13 AM: Approaching Edmonds now, though it’s currently closer to the Kitsap County side than the Snohomish County side.

11:35 AM: Passing Kingston, per MarineTraffic.com.

11:58 AM: Seeing it in the distance from mid-Alki. If you’re coming down to the beach (or points east) for a look, get going!

12:12 PM: Bertha is now turning toward Elliott Bay. You can’t miss the cranes. Another pic shortly.

12:31 PM: Just substituted new photo above – still clearly visible from Alki but closer to the other side of the bay. Jack Block, Seacrest, Don Armeni will have good views shortly.

1:05 PM: The Fairpartner is now approaching Jack Block Park, where WSDOT executives have gathered to talk with the media, so we’ve moved there. Newest photo is atop this story.

1:30 PM: Adding a few more. The ship has stopped, for now, a ways off the park. WSDOT deputy program administrator Matt Preedy (above), the West Seattleite who you see so often speaking about the projects in this area, is here and says it’s going to anchor for a while; currently, the ship is pivoting to some degree. This is about the closest view we’re getting:

1:42 PM: WSDOT reps confirm to us here at Jack Block that Bertha is not coming all the way in to dock today – preparation will be done on ship and on shore, and they’re working around other marine traffic. Meantime, we have more great photos in the inbox, beyond what we’ve been sharing – here’s what WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli sent from Columbia Center downtown:

We’ll add more photos in a bit – and will get on to other news, too.

ADDED 4:52 PM: Also from Christopher, the pit that “Bertha” is destined for:

From WSB contributing photojournalist Nick Adams, the Fairpartner and The Needle:

Jesse Doerr photographed the ship looking out over its eventual docking area:

Chi Duong‘s photo is from downtown:

And Adam Dunko‘s is from Hamilton Viewpoint in North Admiral:

Still more to check out – thanks!

32 Replies to "'Bertha' updates: Ship with tunnel machine now off West Seattle"

  • JG April 2, 2013 (10:56 am)

    Will we be able to see this from Alki? The WSDOT map shows Seacrest park as the WS location to watch its arrival.

    • WSB April 2, 2013 (11:17 am)

      JG – Certainly you will be able to see the ship. That’s where I’m hanging out, to get an early view once it rounds the bend, and provide an early alert once it’s coming into view. The main question, of course, is how close it’ll get to shore. It’ll be closer at Seacrest and Jack Block since they are closer to the path toward the terminal.

  • jwws April 2, 2013 (11:50 am)

    Just coming into view, passing Golden Gardens, can see it from my top deck on Genesee Hill – this guy is BIG!!!

  • onion April 2, 2013 (12:08 pm)

    Too bad we don’t have the clear blue skies of the last few days for the photo ops.

  • Bill at Duwamish Head April 2, 2013 (12:17 pm)

    The ship is turning into Elliot Bay now.

  • mrsB April 2, 2013 (12:37 pm)

    Fireboat is welcoming it now……

  • Anna Eileen April 2, 2013 (12:40 pm)

    Thanks for the live tweets, it’s fun to follow since I can’t be there in person!

  • Alki Area April 2, 2013 (12:55 pm)

    Nice view of it just 15 minutes ago down on Harbor Ave…fireboat out in front doing the water welcome.

  • sam-c April 2, 2013 (1:17 pm)

    looking at the (symbols on) marinetraffic.com, it’s stopped now? (“anchored/moored”).

  • TuckTheFunnel April 2, 2013 (1:24 pm)

    I am so upset about #SR99. Seattle voters said NO to a tunnel TWICE! And yet @berthadigsSR99 gets a hero’s welcome. Ridiculous. Trust me, this will not
    go as planned. We’ve been bamboozled and; Seattle citizens will be left paying for this fiasco for years to come. Viva la viaduct!

  • odroku April 2, 2013 (1:49 pm)

    I’m not sure being interested in the arrival of such a gigantic and unique piece of machinery is really a “hero’s welcome.” I can love the viaduct and be amazed at such a feat of engineering without conflict; they’re not related.

  • JimClark April 2, 2013 (1:59 pm)

    Sorry but i just have this feeling that something is going to happen in construction that will be huge cost overruns. The state Dot is not doing a good job in the new 520 pontoons and i think something similar is going to happen on the tunnel.
    Hope it doesn’t

  • anti-obstruction April 2, 2013 (2:07 pm)

    The Trojan Horse with a twist…or something like that. :D

  • Gary E April 2, 2013 (2:11 pm)

    Sink the boat! Save Seattle!

  • smallgirlbigtown April 2, 2013 (2:15 pm)

    This is so awesome! Bertha is a beauty!

  • gatewooder April 2, 2013 (2:29 pm)

    It was a great sight to see Bertha come in, with the fire boat and ferries to greet her.

  • Wally April 2, 2013 (2:32 pm)

    For the money we are spending on this boondoggle-I thought “Bertha” would be more impressive. I drove the viaduct this past weekend. One of the more spectacular sights around- what a waste!


  • DTK April 2, 2013 (3:08 pm)

    I just love reading that people against the tunnel so enjoy the magnifcent view while DRIVING AT 60 MPH!!! Forget the earthquake, it’s the distracted drivers that will take you out.

  • duder April 2, 2013 (3:12 pm)

    Trojan Horse!

    The ominous clouds that sat over the city were particularly fitting this day.

  • JEM April 2, 2013 (3:12 pm)

    Now I have Grateful Dead’s Bertha stuck in my head…

  • Tuesday April 2, 2013 (3:44 pm)

    Don’t worry, there will be MUCH Bertha drama to come. Just ask the kind taxpayers of Massachusetts. They loved the BILLIONS in overruns that the “Big Dig” tunnel project brought on. If I’m not mistaken they are STILL tolling heavily to pay off that insanity. That’s what I love about Seattle. People here love adventure far too much to come up with a sane solution to the viaduct problem… like say, rebuilding the viaduct with actual downtown exits. And the longer commute? Another awesome adventure. This tunnel project will be the gift that KEEPS on giving! (Ya know, because the city taxpayers are on the hook for the overruns.)

  • A. April 2, 2013 (3:44 pm)

    Right there with you TuckTheFunnel. This tunnel is a dumb idea. And it will be tolled, right? I will never use it. I imagine there will be many like me. How will be get to the overcrowded I-5? The bridge sucks right now. It will only get worse. And all of the new apartments, condos going up. Good luck. There goes you home value. Get out while you can! Seriously.

  • Rick April 2, 2013 (4:35 pm)

    Gawd, we have such short memories!

  • Chris W April 2, 2013 (5:37 pm)

    Bertha makes me think of”Aunt Flo” … dreaded arrival, pain and cramping (traffic), bleeding (cash), and she will stay way too long.

  • Mike April 2, 2013 (6:08 pm)

    Love to see the fireboat out there playing. For over $2 million a year we get to see this kind of display, and nothing else. What a waste of taxpayers’ money.

  • Codad April 2, 2013 (6:29 pm)

    They should have called it the grave digger.

  • West Seattle Since 1979 April 2, 2013 (6:58 pm)

    The tunnel passed in the August 16, 2011 vote, or is this a lie?

    If this is incorrect, please remove this comment. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but I don’t think it’s true that it was voted down every time.

  • Ken April 2, 2013 (7:06 pm)

    Perhaps when it’s finished at the waterfront it could bore a tunnel under Lake Washington and use those 520 pontoons as wildlife buoys? As long as they would still be floating…

  • cascadianone April 2, 2013 (8:47 pm)

    The tunnel is a nightmare. They can’t find the magic amount to set the tolls at- and Seattle City is on the hook for the difference! We are SO screwed.

    If we had ANY BRAINS AT ALL we would cancel the dig right now until we have proper funding in place.

  • Jeff platt April 3, 2013 (3:45 am)

    Most $$$$
    Least traffic flow
    We cant fix anything else cause all the $$$ is gone
    Very poor choices and leadership
    The first plan was 1/2 billion and would of been done by now
    Would of been another simple safe viaduct
    P,us i bet it sinks in cause its mud
    Boston big dig ll?

  • wscommuter April 3, 2013 (6:27 pm)

    Alright folks … please take a slow, deep breath of air … relax … exhale. Let’s get back to facts; not hyperbole.

    Not the Big Dig. I daresay most folks who try to compare the SR99 project to Boston’s don’t even understand what was done in Boston, much less why they had the problems they did (and yes, I do … and we don’t have the issues here that Boston did). Is it possible there will be problems drilling this tunnel? Sure – we’ll just have to wait. But I laugh at the folks here who are predicting doom and gloom with such certainty. They must know something the rest of us who actually understand the project don’t. These same folks are either ignorant – or just ignoring – the completely successful local tunneling projects in the last couple of years for Sound Transit – the on-time and on-budget tunneling through Capitol Hill and to Montlake for light rail. Yes, Brightwater went badly – and that contractor now has a $155million dollar judgment against it to pay for its mistakes.

    The “rebuild the viaduct” folks are equally misguided. Again – facts. You may not have noticed, the Battery St. tunnel is only two lanes now … so through-put is unchanged with the new tunnel.

    So it boils down to “I’m losing my Seneca St. exit”. Yes, I lose too … I take it daily. But I’m grateful my city is getting its waterfront back and I realize the surface street improvements will make my commute no big deal. So I’m willing to give up my viaduct view and easy exit.

    Chill folks, it will be fine.

  • Steve April 3, 2013 (8:41 pm)

    seems like it should have a guy’s name not a gal’s

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