SR-99 TBM Photos

The almost finished product - photo from WSDOT

The almost finished product – photo from WSDOT

WSDOT has uploaded a number of photos of the SR-99 TBM machine onto flickr. However you feel about this tunnel project – I for one, have hated it from the get-go – this is an impressive piece of machinery.

Here are some previous TBM links on STB, including some of TBMs breaking through.


    • AlexKven says

      They could easily route buses in the new tunnel, and since it’s so big, it could function as such if they have bus-only lanes.

      • asdf says

        The design of the tunnel all but guarantees that no transit will ever use it for the foreseeable future, with the possible exception of vanpools and a few deadheads. If we could have just had one station stop somewhere in downtown, we could have used the tunnel to thru-route RapidRide C and E, rather than C and D on the surface, which would have made all the difference.

      • says

        @asdf: It would take more than just one station.

        First, generalities: it’s a two-mile tunnel (and it’s really longer if you count the approaches and the fact that to the south it spills onto a freeway viaduct with very little potential for stops) and reasonable stop spacing in an area as dense and boarding-heavy as downtown Seattle would be closer than that.

        Second, specifics. The RapidRide lines aren’t just commuter routes, they’re trunk routes in our transit system. Even if you consider Belltown or Pioneer Square walkable from a central downtown stop there are various important transfers that anything that can plausibly be called a trunk route should serve. Denny is moderately important and with the tunnel’s approach considered the bus won’t be able to stop south of Harrison (and a Harrison stop would leave pedestrians in Interchangeville). 3rd and Pine/Westlake Station is huge, and the tunnel will be below 1st Avenue (in both senses of the word) at Pine, with steep blocks separating any would-be station from any connecting transit. IDS/King Street Station is pretty important, too; the tunnel doesn’t come close enough to there for an easy transfer, but at least the climb isn’t so steep as it is farther north.

        So you’d need, at the bare minimum, a station around Pine and a station around Yesler. Even with both of these stations the important transfers near downtown would become really inconvenient.

  1. says

    Heh. I was just thinking that it’s too bad there’s not a person in that photo for some size perspective….but there is a person in that photo! Man is that thing big.

    • aw says

      I don’t think you’d want one that big. Although it would probably be big enough to fit four tracks inside the tube, maybe even with room left over for station platforms.

    • Moose says

      Why another one? This one will be looking for a job when it’s done. Support employment programs for out-of-work TBMs.

      • Charles says

        It seems to be tradition that TBM’s aren’t used again at least that I’m aware of. Too bad. I sorta like the idea that ST should form a TBM authority and just keep boring for the next 40 years. Would save a ton of money.

  2. Robert says

    I am personally dismayed there wasn’t 17 public meetings for citizens to give their feedback on the paint color chosen for the cutting face. The green is definitely not Emerald enough. /Snark.

  3. mic says

    The color scheme reminds me of a band of gypsies.
    Maybe the TBM will wander all under downtown, sucking our pockets dry, then magically move on to another city as fast as it arrived.

  4. Matthew Johnson says

    What a freakin’ boondoggle in the making.

    Did anyone see where our ‘friends’ to the East made it part of their legislative agenda to make sure the cost overrun provision is enforced?

    I wonder if the powers that be will be able to keep the complete implosion of the project from becoming public knowledge (how much press have you seen about the cutting of toll revenues?) until after next Nov?

    • Eric H says

      This is good. This helps ensure that WSDOT doesn’t weasel on the tolling and shake more money out of their sofa cushions.

  5. Tim Whittome says

    Looks awesome and look forward to its arrival in Seattle. By the way, it has been named “Bertha” after the first lady mayor of our city.

    This machine should be shipped to SEA in March and then displayed until June before beginning its work – touch wood!

  6. says

    Ohhh, I’m so depressed that we’re moving forward with this ass-eating excuse for a project that I can’t even get excited about this otherwise fantastic machine.

      • Matthew Johnson says

        Except one side was flat out lying to the public. Seattle won’t have to worry about cost overruns! Tolling will make tons of money! There won’t be any diversion!

        Considering that, and what are likely to be more bombshells coming down the pipe, I think it is entirely appropriate to reexamine this decision.

      • says

        The “tolling will make tons of money” lie (recalling the Iran-contra finding: if they didn’t know they really shoulda’ known) is the most hurtful lie in the context of the crooked cost overrun deal. What does Seattle spend its money on; how does Seattle raise its money? If cost overruns come out of the Seattle budget they come out of services and infrastructure that make the city a plausible thing, or out of increased regressive sales taxes.

        People never supported the tunnel because it was a good idea. They supported it because it was presented by backers at the state as inevitable, and its serious downsides were brushed aside without a real coherent response. This is the power that officials have in a democracy, and the officials at WashDOT abused it.

      • mic says

        The sad truth is that real progress in transit will be crippled when all the cards are laid on the table, and Seattle has to sober up from all the ‘drunken sailor spending’ that’s dominated our transportation efforts for years now.
        I guess we are still a boom/bust city of our founders making.

      • Bernie says

        Ah, but we’ll be able to take solic in the fact that you can now catch Amtrak in Stanwood. Meanwhile in Spain, Franco is still dead in Everett Sounder is still grounded due to mudslides.

      • Bernie says

        *solace, not solic, although we might have better luck appealing to a solar deity on Olympus than the powers in Olympia :=

      • says

        Anyway, let’s not try to have an actual discussion. Since there isn’t shit we can do, I propose we move on to profane, mean-spirited trolling. Deep-bore tunnel: great scam or the greatest scam?

      • Tim Whittome says

        I think folks supported the tunnel in Seattle because they were fed up with the debate on the subject and wanted the State to do something rather than have endless debates on the subject. Amazingly, the new name for the machine – Bertha – was not yet another reason to hold up approval but was a post decision decision that was remarkably conflict free – unless of course someone wants to file a future initiative against it…….

        Sometimes the elected officials need to act without having to consult Eyman first as to what we need to do.

  7. Interestedreader says

    Does anybody know what will happen to the machine after it’s done digging the tunnel? It would be great if we held on to the machine and used it to dig another transit tunnel in the future!

    • Bernie says

      TBMs are engineered as a “one shot” deal for the specific job at hand. By the time they are finished they are, well, finished and their highest value is in scrap. No used TBM lots down on East Marginal Way.

    • Chris I says

      Perhaps they can use it to bore a 4-lane replacement for I-5 through downtown seattle, and tear out the freeway, providing acres of prime tax-collecting real estate…

  8. says

    There’s a scale model of the Bertha TBM at the award-winning Milepost Thirty-One mini-museum at 211 First Ave South. The model is electrified, meaning you can push buttons and watch things move. The TBM tows all sorts of working space behind it on what looks something like a big train running on temporary tracks. Included on the train is a lunch room for the workers.

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