March 8, 2015

March 2015 Bertha Updates

By Sarah Washburn

On March 3, 2015, Seattle’s waterfront tunnel boring machine Bertha reached its stopping point in the rescue pit constructed to retrieve the machine.  Bertha tunneled through the rescue pit’s southern wall and was maneuvered into position onto a concrete support cradle.  Next, tunneling contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP) will disconnect hoses and cables, remove motors, and weld lift points onto the machine’s exterior.  After this weeks-long disassembly process, crews will hoist the machine to the surface for repairs.  According to STP, in the best case scenario Bertha could resume tunneling in December 2015.

Meanwhile, STP has requested a change order in the amount of $12 million relating to the rescue pit.  The change order request alleges that the contractors digging the rescue pit encountered conditions that were different than the state represented, leading to extra work.  According to WSDOT, the request is under review and no decisions have been made.  The $12 million request is the first related to construction of the rescue pit.  The contractors have requested an additional $210 million in change orders relating to other portions of the project, a large percentage of which the state has denied.