Bertha getting ready to "bore" down

SEATTLE - It's even BIGGER close up!  The State Route 99 tunneling machine, known as "Bertha", towers over workers from her 80-foot- deep launch pit.  Today, the local news media got an up close and personal tour of the world's largest tunneling machine, as preparations are being made for Bertha to start "boring" later this month.  Bertha's historic journey underneath downtown Seattle will dig a tunnel to replace the SR 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Bertha will bore out a two-mile tunnel that will change the ways traffic uses SR 99 in Seattle, according to the WSDOT Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program website.  Drivers approaching the tunnel from either direction will face a choice depending on their destination.  Drivers may use the tunnel to bypass downtown or exit to city streets and head into downtown.

The public is invited to join Governor Jay Inslee at Bertha's launch site to learn about the project and the tunnel operation.  The public event runs from 11:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. today (Saturday).  The site is located to the west of Seattle's stadiums on South King Street and the old Alaskan Way.  This entrance is for pedestrians only, no vehicles.  For more information on the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program visit