Many of you that are involved in the Heavy Equipment industry may be aware of the project to dig the Washington State Route 99 below the city of Seattle with the use of the the worlds largest tunnel boring machine named “Big Bertha”. Big Bertha has been tunneling through Seattle for the last 6 months until a few weeks ago on December 6 where the machine got stuck on an unknown object. Recent reports have identified that the unknown object is an 8 inch diameter, 115 foot long steel pipe which Bertha was not designed to drill through. Seattle authorities are now in the process of removing the steel pipe to allow Bertha to continue the digging project.
This is a perfect example of how proper planning can make or break a project. The Steel pipe mentioned was actually placed by the same committee drilling the hole to survey the water levels in the soil ; however, between the acquisition of the digging machinery and the logistics of the labor they forgot to remove the steel pipe from the path that Bertha is taking. A minor error like this one has caused the $3.1 billion dollar project to come to a grinding halt which will likely delay the project and compound the costs associated with making the tunnel. We in the Heavy Equipment industry should take this lesson to heart that even the most complex projects can be diverted by the simplest mistakes.
To read the full article on this and learn more about this project see the article here at http://www.equipmentworld.com/a-steel-pipe-is-what-brought-bertha-the-worlds-largest-tunnel-boring-machine-to-a-halt/
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