TBM RECORDER Giant Seattle TBM ready for hand over Dec 2012
Shani Wallis, TunnelTalk
Standing at an enormous 17.48m high, the giant cutterhead of the largest TBM ever built is lifted into place and the machine is fully assembled at the Hitachi Zosen factory near Osaka in Japan ready for inauguration and acceptance by Dragados/Tutor Perini, the contractor engaged to build the 2.7km long Alaskan Way viaduct replacement highway tunnel in Seattle, USA.
  • The giant TBM fully assembled and factory tested

    The giant TBM fully assembled and factory tested

  • Work progresses on the TBM launch site in Seattle

    Work progresses on the TBM launch site in Seattle

TunnelTalk will be in Japan next week at the official handover to experience first hand the massive scale of this enormous TBM and report the comments and impressions of engineers, contractors and politicians involved in spearheading the world-class tunnel project and procuring the record-setting EPBM machine.
Hitachi Zosen was selected from five finalists to design and manufacture the enormous machine and is preparing for its handover to the Seattle Tunnel Partners JV of Dragados and Tutor Perini on Thursday 20 December. Senior managers of the JV as well as politicians from the project's client the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), will join senior managers and engineers of Hitachi Zosen to witness a factory testing demonstration and celebrate the end of manufacture before it is dismantled and prepared for shipping to the USA in early 2013.
In the meantime, back in Seattle, a competition among the pupils at different schools in the city has secured a name for the giant machine and preparations are well under way at the TBM launch pit from where the machine will begin its 2.7km long drive under the city streets.
  • Scale model of the TBM at the visitors' center

    Scale model of the TBM at the visitors' center

  • Activity at the project's Milepost 31 visitors' center

    Activity at the project's Milepost 31 visitors' center

The TBM is to be called Bertha after Bertha Knight Landes who was elected Mayor of Seattle in 1926 and became the first woman to lead a major American city. Coincidentally, her husband was a professor of geology and later Dean of the College of Sciences at the University of Washington.
As the project makes progress, interest among the general public in Seattle is also mounting and record numbers are being attracted to its visitors' center in the Pioneer Square district of the city adjacent to the main working site and launch pit of the TBM. The visitors' center, named Milepost 31 after the point at which the viaduct replacement tunnel enters Pioneer Square, has been open for a year and has attracted more than 7,000 visitors to date. As well as a full scale model of the monster TBM, interactive exhibits show how Seattle's landscape and shoreline has changed over its history and how crews are building the massive double-deck highway tunnel that will replace the viaduct and again reshape the waterfront of the city. When opened in 2015 the new tunnel will allow the double-deck highway viaduct, which has been severely damaged by earthquake activity, to be torn down and the area converted to a remodeled pedestrian way.
Watch next week when TunnelTalk brings more news of the TBM inauguration and handover ceremony live from Japan.

Assembly of the 17.48m o.d. EPBM at the Hitachi Zosen factory at Sakai, Japan

The Milepost 31 project visitors' center has attracted great interest from Seattle citizens

Mighty TBM procurement for Seattle - TunnelTalk, July 2011
Alaskan Way contract signed - TunnelTalk, January 2011
Alaskan Way mega-project procurement - TunnelTalk, October 2010

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