Bertha is drilling again: 8 feet done and 8,000 feet to go

SEATTLE -- The boring machine Bertha has passed its first set of tests, since resuming tunneling along the Seattle waterfront.

Seattle Tunnel Partners say crews started moving Bertha forward in its underground pit early Tuesday. They successfully drilled about 8 feet.

Project managers are being cautious. Two years ago, Bertha overheated as it was drilling the tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Crews are now keeping a close eye on the tunneling machine, to make sure that all the repairs made are working.

“Now that the machine has been repaired, we’re going to proceed very slowly out of the access shaft and we’ll gradually increase the production as we move up Alaskan Way,” says project manager Chris Dixon.

The crews are taking a break for the holidays, but say tunneling will resume in early January. The plan is to go another 450 feet, then stop for some maintenance before tunneling under the viaduct itself.

Project managers are confident Bertha will be able to drill the remaining 8,000 feet. They’re hoping the entire project will be completed by spring 2018.

For more on the project and the latest video of Bertha, go to