Bertha Has Landed; Her 5,000 Mile Journey Is Over and the World Rejoices

There’s a new sheriff in town and her name is Bertha. The $80 million beast of burden arrived today just after 1 p.m., when it slowly trudged into Elliott Bay. Here, the world’s biggest tunneling machine will remain until Terminal 46 opens later this week.

There were no crowds, no huge hoopla -- though Seattle Fire Department boats welcomed Bertha with a water show -- just a handful of reporters and photographers who watched from Jack Block Park in West Seattle, where a couple of officials with the Washington State Department of Transportation made themselves available for questions.

The 6,700-ton behemoth left Osaka, Japan, on March 19 aboard the 469-foot long Jumbo Fairpartner. Once at Terminal 46, crews are expected to take around ten days to unload the massive contraption. Then it must reassemble its 41 parts, including the 57.5-foot wide rotary cutting head, in a 400-foot long, 80-foot deep pit , just east of the terminal.

Bertha comes to life this summer, when the $2 billion project, a two-mile underground stretch along Seattle’s downtown waterfront, begins. The tunnel opens for business in late 2015.

Most people think the name Bertha was given to the drilling godzilla because of its enormous girth. But actually, it is named in honor of Bertha Knight Landes, the first and only female mayor of Seattle, elected in 1926.

Last October, the DOT launched a contest to name the boring machine. The winning name was submitted by both a second-grade student at Lincoln Elementary School in Hoquiam and a fifth-grade class at Poulsbo Elementary School.

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