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Fifth-graders name Seattle tunneling machine

A model of the machine that will dig the Seattle Highway 99 tunnel is on display at Milepost 31, the project’s information centerin Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood.                                         - WSDOT
A model of the machine that will dig the Seattle Highway 99 tunnel is on display at Milepost 31, the project’s information centerin Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood.
— image credit: WSDOT

POULSBO — Poulsbo Elementary students can now say they have a hand in the Seattle Highway 99 tunneling project.  Darryl Elves’ Poulsbo Elementary fifth-grade class submitted the winning name of the tunneling machine recently. The winning name: Bertha.

The name was selected from more than 150 entries by a panel of judges, including Gov. Chris Gregoire and Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond.

Elves and his students have been invited to Bertha’s dedication ceremony in Seattle, sometime in summer before drilling begins. The students will also receive T-shirts.

The selected name will be painted on the side of the machine.

The name is in honor of Bertha Knight Landes. Landes was elected mayor of Seattle in 1926 and was the first female mayor of a major U.S. city.

Bertha is being tested in Osaka, Japan. It is 57.5 feet in diameter. Once testing is complete, Bertha will be shipped to Seattle in pieces, in March.

Drilling the Highway 99 tunnel begins June in Sodo. Bertha will tunnel to South Lake Union by fall 2014. The tunnel will reach to Queen Anne. The two-mile highway project is expected to open to traffic around New Year’s 2016.

Elves admits the winning contest name did not take much effort. The class spent about half an hour in the computer lab before selecting a name.

“It’s going to be something to see, though,” Elves said.

 

 

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