That hypercaffeinated big city to the north never ceases to annoy us. It basks in global fame for its burgeoning creative-class hipsters, venture capitalists and information-age startups. It rides on the shoulders of overachievers such as Bill Gates, Howard Schultz and Jeff Bezos.
In short, Seattle is known for never standing still.
So the Schnoz can’t help but enjoy a large, ironic snort while pondering the object that has turned into the new symbol of the Jet City.
Bertha, the world’s largest (and slowest) tunnel-boring machine.
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Named for former Seattle Mayor Bertha Knight Landes, who served from 1926-28 and probably would be mortified to know what her name has come to represent.
There was a time when the Space Needle pointed boldly to future heights, and the Great Wheel on the downtown waterfront signified constant motion.
Now, an entire city watches helplessly while a twice-stalled $80 million behemoth waits to be extracted from a highway tunnel that’s only one-tenth complete.
This week, crews started digging the 12-story-deep pit needed to rescue Bertha, which is supposed to be digging an underground replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
That’s a lot of digging. We doubt even Boston could keep pace.
The rescue pit, incidentally, was supposed to be done by this month. Then again, under original plans, the entire highway tunnel was supposed to be drilled by this fall.
Seattle Tunnel Partners says it’s on track to have Bertha’s damaged cutting face running and boring again by next spring.
And if you believe that, we have some underground Pioneer Square swampland we’d like to sell you.
Our girl puts Bertha to shame: Meantime, when compared to the Bertha boondoggle, Tacoma’s own $500 million Nalley Valley viaduct project is a sleek, dynamic beauty with undulating curves.
Our unsung highway interchange deserves a name that befits her charm. Let’s call her Jacqueline.
Oh sure, Jacqueline was a bit wayward at times; she suffered through a $1 million mistake when one of her off-ramps was built in the wrong place.
For years, her detractors said she was going nowhere, headed toward a dead end, at the Sprague Avenue overpass. Some said she should change her name to Thelma or Louise.
But now, after T-Town waited five years for her to graduate from finishing school, Jackie’s a sight for sore eyes. Commuters seem to appreciate her — most of the time, anyway — and a new 180-foot tall flag pole offers a salute high above Center Street.
And Bertha? Poor gal can’t even eat dirt.
She’s a big girl, that one: History tells us Big Bertha was the name of a German howitzer cannon used during World War I. More recently, a line of powerful Callaway golf clubs has carried the same name.
In light of recent events, they might have a better shot completing the state Route 99 tunnel than that other Bertha does.
At least we can find grim entertainment watching the labor union disputes, the staredown between the state and the contractor over the tunnel’s cost overruns, and the downtown Seattle commuters with their sense of seething self-entitlement.
Say what you will about Bertha. In more ways than one, she’s never boring.
What are the odds?: Bass Pro and Hobby Lobby are here. Chick-fil-A is on the way. NASCAR can't be far behind.
And not a single one of these places is in Spanaway?
That’s so Orting: It was quite the gala affair Wednesday night in Orting, as dozens of movers and shakers gathered to discuss their unfinished work trying to build a Bridge for Kids — that is, an evacuation route in case a killer mudflow ever crashes down from Mount Rainier.
The emcee assured the audience the presentations would finish promptly on schedule.
The president of the Bridge for Kids Committee wasn’t quite as time-sensitive. He spent 20 minutes going around the room, introducing everyone (including the person running the PowerPoint projector), returning to those he initially skipped over, apologizing and saying hello.
Yes, they move at a slower pace in Orting.
Which could be a problem when the lahar comes.
A political wife’s personal touch: Trust us, the Nose household is just as sick of the election mailers as you are. But we have to give props to state Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Tacoma, for enlisting his wife in his re-election bid.
It wasn’t enough that the campaign mass-distributed a “Dear neighbor” letter handwritten (in lovely blue-ink penmanship) by Laurie O’Ban, including wedding anniversary and other intimate details.
It also included a recipe for Hot Caramel Apple Cider (O’Ban Family Favorite).
Sorry, Laurie. If you want to nail down our vote, you’d better deliver a steaming mug to our doorstep.