VIDEO: Highway 99 tunnel-machine pit prep before restart

(Video clip updated late Monday by WSDOT, so we’ve substituted the new “extended” one)
According to an update this morning from WSDOT, the newest schedule from its contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners still says the tunneling machine is expected to start up again next week, two days before Christmas. (WSDOT, meantime, reiterates that it “cannot verify” the schedule.) Meantime, it’s also published the video clip you see above, showing one of the final steps in access-pit preparation before the machine can get going again – backfilling with sand, which started yesterday and is expected to continue all week. This and other prep steps are all detailed, with graphics, on WSDOT’s project website. It’s now been more than two years before the machine overheated and stopped tunneling.

18 Replies to "VIDEO: Highway 99 tunnel-machine pit prep before restart"

  • Rick December 14, 2015 (2:41 pm)

    Once again, just in time for the Christmas break. No pun intended. Or maybe not.

  • jetcitydude December 14, 2015 (4:20 pm)

    I thought that they were giving Bertha a proper burial.

  • WSDave December 14, 2015 (5:52 pm)

    Hope they don’t pack that back-fill sand too tight. Hate to see Bertha stalled again.

  • dsa December 14, 2015 (10:24 pm)

    So if they fill the hole with sand, can someone explain what is going to hold the sand overhead in place long enough to install the tunnel liners once Bertha advances?

  • Bertha Schmertha December 15, 2015 (12:02 am)

    What a joke. Is there a place where we can place bets on how far it goes before it gets stuck again? My bet is it makes it another 10% more before it gets jammed under a building.

  • 935 December 15, 2015 (6:27 am)

    Why, oh why are they using a front end loader, to an excavator, to a crane lift bucket, to be spooled down and dropped into place??
    I get that (for whatever reason) the sand needs to be strategically placed and compacted. But couldn’t these dimestore engineers figure out a way to load the sand onto a conveyor that would load the bucket directly? Say dump truck into a ground hopper? Thereby eliminating the need for the excavator position and thusly the labor and fuel premium?
    STP, good work….if you can get it….

  • Wsgal December 15, 2015 (6:33 am)

    Word from DOT is that Bertha is DEFEINITELY not starting “on time” not even close apparently.

    • WSB December 15, 2015 (7:33 am)

      We’ll see soon enough. This was an official “hey, media folks, check this out” release, not just something I dug up (pardon the phrase) from the website, so WSDOT is at least trying to make the point that prep is under way. – TR

  • Rick December 15, 2015 (8:20 am)

    Yeah, Vegas has to have odds on this. When I have a few extra minutes I’ll get to checkin’ . Extra Xmas cash would be nice.

  • EjSwanson December 15, 2015 (8:47 am)

    So she breaks down again under the city could we create a museum called stupid projects of the 21st centaury.

  • wetone December 15, 2015 (9:33 am)

    935 why ? that’s not the Seattle way. Seattle goes with the open check book, no cost overrun to big “policy”. Functionality means little to our city leaders. They just want headlines. If they need more $$$ they raise taxes :) Tunnel, Waterfront rebuild, Streetcar system, Reservoir issues…

  • Bertha Schmertha December 15, 2015 (10:15 am)

    I believe the completion date for the tunnel was for the end of this year. Like this month. 2015. Wow, what a colossal screw up this whole thing has turned out to be.

  • cjboffoli December 15, 2015 (2:10 pm)

    I’m happy to see this very challenging and audacious engineering project moving forward again. It’s a pity that they didn’t design this TBM to be powered by negative Internet comments as if they did the tunnel would have reached Alaska by now.

  • Bertha Schmertha December 15, 2015 (6:26 pm)

    Yeah, instead they decided to power this TBM with bad decisions, wishes, happy thoughts, and fairy dust. Yay.

  • Pilsnee December 15, 2015 (9:46 pm)

    So much negativity. I like the tunnel. Im in construction, its kept me busy. Today i loaded a piece of the machine onto one of our own trucks to be taken to the contractors yard. Now i eat at local businesses.

  • Cheshire December 16, 2015 (8:40 pm)

    I’m with you cjboffoli! If this thing gets built it will be an amazing accomplishment and make our waterfront beautiful and inviting. It’s too bad that’s it’s been stalled for 2+ years but let’s stop complaining about it and hope for the best. We can do this!

  • wetone December 17, 2015 (10:10 am)

    What’s wonderful about tunnel ? about the only people that like it are ones that are involved with it in one way or the other or ones that don’t understand the impacts to themselves and others if completed. Once built commute times for the majority of WS residents will be worse and more expensive. Few winners. If one thinks foot area of viaduct will be open space ha, many developers just waiting… Negativity you say, you bet. People are not happy paying for something that will impact themselves in many negative ways. I love it how Seattle government pushes the building/population boom and takes road capacity away, and people wonder why traffic and commute times are getting worse. Only in Seattle…

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