Tunneler is ready to dive

Work should begin this month in Seattle



SEATTLE — Visitors got a last look at the Seattle tunneling machine nicknamed Bertha on Saturday before it heads underground for more than a year.

Gov. Jay Inslee was among the dignitaries attending the dedication ceremony for the world’s largest tunneling machine, which should begin boring by the end of the month and spend the next 14 months carving out a new route for Highway 99.

The $80 million machine is part of the $3.1 billion project to replace the 60-year-old Alaskan Way Viaduct, the double-deck highway along the downtown waterfront.

Bertha was built in Japan and arrived by ship in April in 41 pieces.

Bertha is projected to complete the 2-mile tunnel by October 2014. Traffic is expected to start using the four-lane toll tunnel by the start of 2016.