Remember when everyone was first talking about how the deep-bore tunnel was a terrible idea, and this was a thing? As reported by The Stranger a while back:
Our [tunnel-boring machine] will confront a mixture of sedimentary elements in soft soil, which are the most difficult conditions to penetrate because the loose material tends to cave in behind the machine. So as the machine grinds forward, it must simultaneously create a concrete tunnel lining behind it to hold up the earth. Those concrete slabs narrow the diameter of the hole, preventing the TBM from backing up. Tunneling machines can’t travel in reverse. And if the TBM’s blades break, the machine can’t move forward. It’s stuck.
Anyway, so Bertha the tunnel-boring machine has hit “an obstacle,” and it is extremely unclear what type/severity of obstacle she hit. If Bertha’s blades break, or this obstacle can’t be cleared out somehow, she either just gets left there with the project stalled indefinitely — like what happened to Bertha’s bros in Bothell in 2009 — or she has to like, be disassembled for removal. If it turns out that this obstacle is a really severe one, or she moves forward and breaks, it’s one of the worst things that can go wrong.
We might just be panicking. Maybe it’s just like, a rat king, and the rat king will leave or get killed by Bertha blades and we can all go about our merry way and not get saddled with tax overruns and OH GOD.
The weirdest part of this whole story right now is that all the news outlets are treating this like it’s actual news. They’re all treating this as if no one could have predicted that this would happen at some point.
AND, the fact that they knew this could happen and didn’t design the drill (specially made, I believe) to be able to back up or be disassembled when this happens is just FUCKING RIDICULOUS!