Tunnel crews keeping busy

While we’re working with our contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP), to get Bertha moving again, we’re also doing a significant amount of work elsewhere on the project. In fact, the vast majority of the 300 people who work on the tunnel each day aren’t anywhere near Bertha.

Here are some of the things they’ve been up to:

Building the tunnel’s south portal
It’s hard to tell when you’re driving by on SR 99, but a good portion of the tunnel’s south end has already been built. Crews have been hard at work building the connection between the bored section of the tunnel and the elevated section of SR 99 we completed in late 2012. On- and off-ramps to the south end of the tunnel are also taking shape. Here’s what the portal will look like when it’s finished.

Building the tunnel’s north portal
Construction of the tunnel’s future north portal is also well underway. Crews are building the 80-foot-deep pit where Bertha will emerge from the ground at the end of her tunnel drive, as well as the future connection between the tunnel and SR 99/Aurora Avenue North. 

Operations buildings
To the east of the tunnel launch pit, crews are building what will become the new tunnel’s south portal operations building. The building – along with a similar one at the future north portal – will house the equipment needed for the safe operation of the tunnel, including emergency generators, ventilation fans and parking space for maintenance vehicles.

South Atlantic Street overpass
It’s not part of the tunnel project, but the Jan. 27 opening of the South Atlantic Street overpass marked a major milestone in our efforts to replace the viaduct. Located just south of the launch pit, to the west of the stadiums, the overpass allows traffic to bypass a busy railroad track that crosses Atlantic. Before the overpass, train activity often blocked traffic for extended periods, which not only slowed truckers traveling to and from the Port of Seattle, but also created backups that stretched onto Seattle streets and Interstate 90. The overpass could save truckers as much as 20 minutes of travel time between the port and I-5 or I-90. 

Previous updates
Jan. 23, 2014 update – Hyperbaric investigations continue
Jan. 21, 2014 update – Hyperbaric inspections continue
Jan. 17, 2014 update – Crews begin inspecting excavation chamber
Jan. 16, 2014 update – Working with Seattle Tunnel Partners to resume tunneling
Jan. 14, 2014 update – Diving deeper into the tunneling stoppage