Jan. 14 Bertha Update: Going Hyperbaric – Source: WSDOT This press release by WSDOT is fascinating, you should definitely check it out. It describes the hyperbaric intervention that deep see divers performed to try and determine what has impeded the progress of the Bertha TBM on the Alaska Way Viaduct Tunnel project. They describe how a bentonite mud is injected in front of the cutterhead to create a "membrane" so they could pump air into the excavation chamber to create an air bubble that the hyperbaric divers could work in. The air pushes the bentonite membrane into the soil face and holds back the soil and water. They use the screw conveyor to remove sufficient material from the excavation chamber so that the divers can work in the top half of the excavation chamber.
Jan. 21 Bertha Update: Initial Results of Hyperbaric Inspections – Source: WSDOT In this press release, WSDOT reported that as of January 21, STP divers had spent more than 35 hours under hyperbaric conditions inspecting the TBM cutterhead from inside the excavation chamber. They removed a piece of bent well casing, pieces of PVC pipe, and found a large boulder or piece of concrete in a cutterhead opening.
Jan. 23 Bertha Update: More Hyperbaric Work, No New Findings – Source: WSDOT In this press release, WSDOT mainly just updated the total tally of hours worked by the deep see divers in the TBM intervention at the cutterhead. As of January 23, they were up to 68 hours of work performed during 17 sessions.
Jan. 31 Bertha Update: Further evaluation required before tunneling can resume – Source: WSDOT Bertha moved forward about 2 feet on January 28 to test the cutterhead and build the next tunnel liner ring. STP crews observed abnormally high temperatures in some components, similar to what was observed during the original stoppage on December 6. The made adjustments, moved forward another 2 feet but the temperatures persisted. The analysis will continue.
I was reading the ASCE News, January edition which announced the 5 finalists for the 2010 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) Award and I was struck by the significant geotechnical engineering and geoengineering components of these projects. Read on as I highlight some of things hidden beneath the ground of these remarkable projects. […]
The tunnel replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct (SR-99) will pass beneath 158 existing structures requiring an extensive program of vibration and settlement monitoring as well as some remediation. Of the 158 buildings, WSDOT identified 20 […]
Perhaps you’ve heard of Bertha, the World’s Largest Tunnel Boring Machine or TBM? She’s currently working her way underneath Downtown Seattle, excavating the Alaska Way Bored Tunnel to replace the aging Alaska Way Viaduct. This $2 Billion megaproject is an incredible feat of engineering on so many levels. I was in Seattle in September for the Association of Engineering Geologists annual meeting, and was fortunate enough to attend a field trip to see the launch pit and Bertha before she began her tunnel drive. It was an unforgettable experience for this engineer! In this article I give an overview of the project and Bertha herself, discuss some of the geotechnical features, and share my photos and video. Check it out!