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Inslee Says 'Big Bertha' To Resume Drilling Seattle Tunnel


"Big Bertha" should soon get back to work digging a nearly two mile tunnel to replace Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The massive drilling machine has been idled since last month because of a labor dispute on Seattle’s waterfront. But Tuesday Governor Jay Inslee announced the Longshoreman’s union has agreed to take down its picket line while negotiations continue.

“I am very pleased that we’ve given the green light to Bertha and the contractor now needs to get Bertha up and running again as soon as possible.”

Inslee says the next step is to seek a “permanent solution” to the jobs dispute.

At issue is who should do the work of removing the muck Bertha digs out – members of the Longshoreman’s union or the Building Trades union? It’s just eight jobs.

Bertha has also faced technical challenges. But the governor says the contractor has told him the tunnel-boring behemoth is ready to go.

On the Web:

Alaskan Way Viaduct: Tracking Bertha - WSDOT

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."