This glorious, cinematic drone footage commemorates four long years of digging.

WSDOT

An ominous, teeth-chattering rumbling; a sudden and great gout of muddy liquid; showers of falling rock and pouring water—this footage of Seattle’s Bertha finally emerging from the ground is almost like a lost scene of a sandworm attack from David Lynch’s Dune.

The world’s largest tunnel borer saw the light of day on Tuesday after its four-year journey eating through a 1.7-mile underground passageway. To celebrate, the Washington State Department of Transportation yesterday released this fantastically cinematic drone video of the machine breaking through a five-foot-thick concrete wall inside a deep pit. The immense size of the borer’s cutterhead isn’t easy to comprehend here; the above photo puts it into perspective that this is a five-story-tall maw built for god-sized grinding.

If all goes according to schedule, the tunnel will open as a two-level roadway in 2019 to replace an old viaduct that’s susceptible to earthquake damage. In the weeks ahead, work crews will reward Bertha’s job-well-done by sacrificing her—aiding her removal from ground by slicing her into parts, some for reuse in future jobs and others just for recycling.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Design

    How 'Maintainers,' Not 'Innovators,' Make the World Turn

    We need more stories about the labor that sustains society, a group of scholars say.

  2. A man walks by an abandoned home in Youngstown, Ohio
    Life

    How Some Shrinking Cities Are Still Prospering

    A study finds that some shrinking cities are prosperous areas with smaller, more-educated populations. But they also have greater levels of income inequality.

  3. a photo of a striking Uber/Lyft driver
    Transportation

    Uber and Lyft Really Don’t Want California to Pass This Worker Rights Bill

    As California considers a gig-work bill to make ride-hailing drivers employees eligible for benefits and bargaining rights, Uber and Lyft ask for compromise.

  4. a photo of yellow vest protesters in Paris, France.
    Equity

    To Understand American Political Anger, Look to ‘Peripheral France’

    French geographer Christophe Guilluy has a controversial diagnosis of working-class resentment in the age of Trump, Brexit, and the Yellow Vests.

  5. A map of apartment searches in the U.S.
    Maps

    Where America’s Renters Want to Move Next

    A new report that tracks apartment searches between U.S. cities reveals the moving aspirations of a certain set of renters.

×