Bertha

Historically, tunnel boring machines (TBMs) are named for women, a tradition originating with miners praying to their patron saint, Barbara, for protection from cave-ins, suffocation and other dangers associated with digging underground. Naming a boring machine in advance of a project is thought to bring good luck, and thus we have Seattle's Bertha, the Chesapeake Bay's Chessie and New York's Nora, created by the Robbins Company for work on the Delaware Aqueduct.

Now that Seattle's long-awaited SR 99 tunnel has opened to traffic, demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct can begin, moving the $3.3 billion, 30-project endeavor one step closer to the projected 2021 completion. Seattle celebrated the opening of SR 99 with a party for the public, including a fun run, bike race and walking tour of the tunnel — an opportunity 70,000 people signed on for.

The precast concrete panels that will build the lower deck of Seattle's new SR 99 double deck tunnel began arriving in early November, marking the beginning of an important stage of the tunnel construction, said Laura Newborn, spokeswoman of the project.

As the year comes to a close, we would like to thank you, our readers, for choosing CEG as your trusted source for construction news. While this year has seen a multitude of major construction projects, announcements, legislation and more, 10 stories topped the list as most-popular, chosen by our online community.

From high-profile infrastructure to politically-charged projects, innovative equipment to billion-dollar builds, the construction industry made a big impact all over the country in 2017. While there were countless projects, events and stories worth talking about throughout the year, here is a list of our editors' top 10 picks:1.

Disassembly of the world's largest tunneling machine is now complete. On Aug. 23 crews lifted the final pieces of the 8,000-ton giant out of the SR 99 tunnel's disassembly pit near Seattle Center. The lift ended more than four months of difficult work.

Efforts in Seattle to dismantle the custom-made tunneling machine fondly dubbed “Bertha” are proceeding as planned with completion on schedule for September. The tunneling machine was used to carve a 1.7-mi. tunnel beneath the city of Seattle, a task that was begun in April 2013.

Sixty-four years to the day the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle opened to traffic, the tunneling machine dubbed “Bertha” emerged into daylight from a 1.7 mi. (2.7 km) drive beneath the city. The crew broke into the 90-ft. (27 m) deep disassembly pit at 11:25 a.m.

Three years after the tunneling machine dubbed “Bertha” began work on a 2-mi. (3.2 km) tunnel beneath the city of Seattle, the machine has passed the half-way point. Bertha pushed past the Pike Place Market on Sept. 30, successfully excavating more than 4,635 ft.

Local Seattle news affiliate Fox Q13 is reporting that as the tunnel-boring machine Bertha takes a break, the public is getting its first look inside the elaborate construction of the tunnel's double-deck highway. Thousands of commuters see the surface construction work along the Alaskan Way Viaduct every day, but what they can't see is 120 feet below downtown Seattle.

The website GeekWire is reporting that as Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct sat free of cars overhead and drivers attempted to move around the city during the roadway's planned 2-week closure, a new drone video Tuesday showcased again what all the fuss is about.