Words don’t quite capture its size. To me, giant, enormous, colossal – all describe something smaller than what I saw as Bertha’s front end rose above ground on March 30. Even members of the media, who gathered to watch the lift from the flat bed of a nearby WSDOT truck, seemed surprised by the enormity of what they were viewing. Standing alongside that media truck, this incredible engineering feat was better described with words of what I felt when the machine came into view. This lift of Bertha was nothing short of awe-inspiring, breathtaking and surprising. Why surprising? Because the crane was almost silent from our vantage point, 100 or so yards away. Nothing sounded like what you’d think 2,000 tons of lift might sound like.
|SR 99 tunneling machine (Bertha) lifted above ground for repair|
The action was barely perceptible in real time. You could stare at those taut steel cables and have no sense of how hard they were working. That’s why the real magic of what happened can best be seen through time-lapse pictures.
One day after Bertha’s front end was on the ground, a handful of friends and even strangers confided to me that they didn’t quite believe Bertha could be fixed until the moment they saw that cutterhead rise from the access pit.
Now they believe.
Hats off to everyone involved in this perfectly executed lift.