Get ready, Seattle – Bertha’s here

BerthaThe journey started in Japan with a single ship. It ended 5,000 miles later in the waters of Elliott Bay, with the much-anticipated arrival of Bertha, the massive machine that will dig the SR 99 tunnel beneath downtown Seattle.

The five-story-tall machine arrived in Seattle on April 2 aboard the Jumbo Fairpartner, the 475-foot-long vessel that carried it across the Pacific Ocean from the manufacturing plant in Osaka, Japan. Built by Japanese firm Hitachi Zosen Corporation, Bertha was taken apart into 41 separate pieces, the largest weighing about 900 tons, before being loaded on the Jumbo Fairpartner last month.

WSDOT will have a live webcam pointed at Bertha’s arrival point once the ship is berthed, along with a map of locations where the public can view the machine’s arrival and unloading. Both can be found on a Web page devoted to tracking Bertha’s journey. The most frequent updates will come via Bertha’s Twitter account. A 10-foot-long interactive model of the machine is on display at Milepost 31, the project’s information center in Pioneer Square, and photos of the machine and construction  in Seattle are also available.

In the coming days, crews will offload Bertha’s pieces at Terminal 46 and transport them to storage areas throughout the work zone, which is just east of the terminal. Reassembly and testing of the machine will take two to three months. Tunneling is scheduled to start this summer.


For more information about the SR 99 Tunnel Project, visit