Sound Transit drill won't be another Bertha

by: Henry Rosoff Updated:


SEATTLE, Wash. - There is another drill that’s about to dig under Seattle streets.

However, Sound Transit is promising their 21-foot drill that will dig a new light rail between Northgate and Husky Stadium, will not be another Bertha debacle.

“This is a team that’s performed fantastic for Sound Transit,” Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray said.  “We’ve got a great team behind it and we feel like we’re ready to go.”

Bertha is 57 feet in diameter, 36 feet bigger than the light rail drill that was christened Monday. 

The biggest tunnel boring machine ever build remains stuck along the water front as it tries to dig a new Highway 99 tunnel.

Bertha hasn’t moved since December 2013 and won’t be repaired until March 2015 at the earliest, as workers dig a giant pit in front of it to repair bearings and seals on the outside.

“The thing is we can actually replace bearings from the inside of this machine,” Gray said about Sound Transit's machine.

The light rail drill also has a proven track record. 

It dug two holes between a Capitol Hill light rail station that is still under construction and Westlake.