So it's not exactly automotive, but it is a fascinating vehicle – and you'll excuse us if we don't make any puns about how boring it actually is. A portion of Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct is being replaced by a deep tunnel, and the machine purpose-built for the job is the world's largest tunnel boring machine (TBM), christened "Bertha." Built by Hitachi Zosen, the 300-foot-long doomsday machine is excavating a 57.5-foot-wide hole for a two-level highway with two lanes in each direction.

Bertha has only recently arrived at the Port of Seattle and is still waiting to get off the cargo ship she rode in on. The video below lays out in detail how she'll crawl her way from one end of the tunnel to the other, 6.5 feet at a time. Warning, it's dry, but we think it's interesting. Beneath that is a time-lapse video of Bertha's 6,100 tons being loaded up in 40 pieces for shipping from Japan to Seattle which makes us think of Fraggle Rock and dozers, but perhaps that's just us...




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  • 50 Comments
      diffrunt
      • 2 Years Ago
      Us olwrenches like anything mechanical. amazing presentation, & accomplishment.
      wanna
      • 2 Years Ago
      I always wondered exactly how these tunnels were made. Awesome engineering.
      diffrunt
      • 2 Years Ago
      Estimated total project cost ---$ 4.25 bil
        JayH
        • 2 Years Ago
        @diffrunt
        way cheaper than the big dig in boston ^_^
          Darren McLellan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @JayH
          Which has made it faster to drive through Boston than around now. Say nothing of the downtown being pleasant. Try walking from Quincy Market to the North End. It is wonderful.
      Smooth Motor
      • 2 Years Ago
      How they keep these TBM's aligned and on course deep underground is an amazing feat by itself!
        Eta Carinae
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Smooth Motor
        they built tunnel back in the day (A.D.) using only the sun alignment at the tunnel's entrance making sure that they were digging in a straight line.........engineering has come a long way
      GeeDavy
      • 2 Years Ago
      2013 and Archimedes' little invention is still helping to reshape our world.
      m_2012
      • 2 Years Ago
      How many billions of government money went to a foreign country for this disaster?
        BG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @m_2012
        You are not thinking very deeply. If no US vendor can supply the appropriate machine, what are they supposed to do?
        Daniel D
        • 2 Years Ago
        @m_2012
        Which part is a disaster?
        Jeremy Pennini
        • 2 Years Ago
        @m_2012
        The wsdot website says the budget is $3.1billion. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Viaduct/Schedule/Budget Doesn't appear to be a disaster, and looks like it's on schedule.
      jebibudala
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mark my words, ultimately this will end in utter failure. Any sane geological engineer familiar with the area will not be associated with this project. Period. ...... Groingo has hit the nail on the head.
      groingo
      • 2 Years Ago
      This will be the same kind of BOONDOGGLE MONEY PIT that Boston has as it will fall apart faster than they can keep it together and the public will have to keep paying and paying. To top it off it is built in largely wet sand in an active earthquake zone....brilliant!
        jebibudala
        • 2 Years Ago
        @groingo
        I'd hate to say this, buy he is absolutely correct. In large, the dangers of any underground development in the Seattle region have been suppressed for financial gains. Anyone with advanced knowledge of the region knows exactly what I'm talking about. Before putting so much faith into civil engineering projects, just remember the Tacoma Narrows Bridge & Alaskan Way Viaduct were also a "great idea".
          BG
          • 2 Years Ago
          @jebibudala
          Inapplicable comparisons. The Tacoma Naarrows bridge was a resonance problem caused by wind loading - not related to geotechnical issues at all. The Alaskan Way viaduct was a good idea with the state of the knowledge in the 1940s-1950s.
      Eta Carinae
      • 2 Years Ago
      i love TBM's for there incredible engineering feats.......i also call them "metal worms", but why is this on a automotive site ? i come here for cars and car related news....this is not
        Ryth
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Eta Carinae
        Its building a tunnel with a two-level highway with two lanes in each direction for.... ....wait for it.... .....automobiles.
        INCREDIBLE BOB
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Eta Carinae
        Well, it's interesting, and they are building a place for cars............................
      Darren McLellan
      • 2 Years Ago
      "A viaduct is a bridge composed of several small spans for crossing a valley or a gorge" How does a tunnel boring machine make a viaduct UNDER anything? You guys need to wake the **** up
        MCW
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Darren McLellan
        The original road is called the "Alaskan Way Viaduct". As in, "look at all the traffic on the Alaskan Way Viaduct!" The viaduct is being replaced by a tunnel. Do some research next time before you call the site out like that.
          Darren McLellan
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MCW
          "This is how a tunnel boring machine will burrow a viaduct under Seattle" What did I miss in this title? Hmmm? I do and did and have been on the viaduct in question. A tunnel and a viaduct are totally different things. Pretty simple to look in a dicitonary to figure out. I bet they even have one collecting dust somewhere. Bad English is everywhere and it SUCKS
          Hammie1985
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MCW
          Also, that viaduct will forever be damaged from the earthquake in '01. I'd hate to be on that thing in the next earthwuake
        INCREDIBLE BOB
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Darren McLellan
        The headline is incorrect -- this is the VIADUCT REPLACEMENT tunnel
      MONTEGOD7SS
      • 2 Years Ago
      Civil engineering has done some amazing things. They don't always get it right, but just a quick look out of any window shows many things they did get right.
      H.E. Pennypacker
      • 2 Years Ago
      what a boring video.
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