Crews try to identify mystery object blocking Seattle tunnel …
A giant underground boring machine called “Bertha” was stopped in it’s tracks when it hit something it just couldn’t cut through. That’s big news as these machines can cut through just about anything.
Theories range from a boulder to an alien blockade. Did the machine get to close to a Reptilian underground base? OK, maybe not….hey, you gotta make it exciting, right? Frankly, I’ve seen how the boring machines are set up and it’s fascinating to me. I just hope they find something weird, like Jimmy Hoffa in Carbonite.
Published on Dec 17, 2013
Crews try to identify mystery object blocking seattle tunnel
SEATTLE – The Transportation Department and contractors building a highway tunnel under downtown Seattle are trying to identify the mystery object that has blocked their tunnel boring machine – but probably won’t know for sure until Friday.
The machine called Bertha ran into something last week and was shut down Saturday about 1,000 feet from the start. The $80 million machine is designed to break up boulders, so there’s speculation about what it hit.
Engineers are considering drilling down 60 feet to the object as one of the ways to break up or remove the obstruction. A large crane equipped with a drill bit was brought to the site Wednesday morning.
Experts estimate it will take until Friday to identify the obstruction.
The nearly two-mile tunnel is supposed to be completed by the end of 2015, creating a four-lane replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct on Highway 99.
But already it has experienced at least three delays – one caused by union picketing over work assignments, another by a sinkhole near Jackson Street and now the mystery object.
WSDOT says the latest trouble started Friday when Bertha’s five-story tall cutter head felt some resistance, then stopped. WSDOT says engineers with Seattle Tunnel Partners, the company in charge of building the viaduct replacement tunnel, have been consulting with other experts to identify the obstruction – whether it’s natural or manmade.
They say Bertha wasn’t damaged in any way. They’re keeping her idle until they decide whether crews need to dig the obstruction out from above or if Bertha can charge through it.
Bertha has dug 1,000 feet of tunnel since July. She’s sitting 60-feet underground between South Jackson Street and South Main Street among a mix of native dirt and fill tossed into place from as early as the 1800s.
She has just 450 more feet to travel before leaving that fill behind. It will also mark the end of phase one in the $4 billion tunnel project that will stretch 1.7 miles from adjacent to Safeco Field to Battery Street.
WSDOT doesn’t know how long Bertha will remain stuck, but they say it’s too early to say whether the delay will affect the project’s bottom line or it’s scheduled opening.
The drill head is made from armoured steel and the cutter heads (tips) are tungsten carbide (hardest man made material next a laboratory diamond). They will bore right through the absolute hardest of rock. It will even cut steel effortlessly.
THE QUESTION IS……. WHAT STOPPED BERTHA FROM DRILLING??????
(notice at the 3:48 mark they says “Maybe it’s some ancient artifact from an ancient civilization that nobody has considered” —– THAT ONE LINE IS A HUGE LIE.
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