Bertha’s nemesis: 119-foot steel pipe

Seattle Times transportation reporter
 
State officials revealed Friday that the mystery object blocking tunnel machine Bertha is a long steel pipe, left buried in 2002 by one of the Highway 99 project’s own research crews.

The tunnel drill has been stranded for a month near Pioneer Square, with no clear strategy yet to extract the pipe.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) could not estimate how much time and money it will take to get the world’s largest drill moving again.

Bertha’s cutting teeth struck the pipe Dec. 3, yet the DOT and its contractors avoided mentioning the steel as a possible culprit for four weeks, despite an incident in which the machine knocked a 55-foot pipe fragment to the surface.

What the ongoing delay means for taxpayers is unclear, but it’s certainly not good.

The costs will be determined later through negotiations between the state and Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), maybe even a legal dispute.

Read More: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2022593902_berthametalxml.html

A fragment of steel pipe pokes between spokes of Bertha's cutting face, in this photo from Thursday's inspection. It's part of a 119-foot deep well, left in the soil after a 2002 groundwater test
 

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