If someone asked you to describe a tunnel boring machine, you might think the answer was right there in the name: BORING. Well, that would mean you’ve never met Bertha, the world’s largest and most talkative tunnel boring machine! Bertha was born in Japan but now resides underground in Seattle, eating a lot of dirt and building the SR 99 tunnel.
EnviroIssues probably can’t take credit for Bertha’s winning personality – she is her own tunneling machine, after all – but we certainly helped introduce her to the world! First, on behalf of WSDOT, we held a naming contest. More than 150 kindergarten through 12th grade students from across the state participated. The winning entry – Bertha – was submitted by two separate groups who wanted to honor Bertha Knight Landes, Seattle’s only female mayor. Once we knew her name, we created a host of materials to mark her arrival in the Emerald City. We designed a logo – only the best for our Bertha – and put that logo on stickers, t-shirts, flyers, and signs.
Right away everyone learned that Bertha doesn’t just have a big cutterhead – she also has a big mouth! With EnviroIssues’s help, she’s been tweeting for about a year now, commenting on construction progress in Japan, the big trip across the Pacific, and her arrival in Elliott Bay. Now, Bertha is educating her 7,400+ followers about how she was reassembled, what her life is like underground, and just how much dirt she likes to eat in a given day. (Hint: A lot. You can read all about it @BerthaDigsSR99).