SEATTLE -- Bertha, the boring machine digging the new State Route 99 tunnel, is halfway through her journey, WSDOT announced Monday.

Bertha actually reached the mark Friday when it tunneled past Pike Place Market on its 9,270-foot journey. WSDOT says Bertha has excavated 4,635 feet. More than 3,000 feet of that has come since April 29.
Bertha is currently about 190 feet under First Avenue between Pike and Pine streets, according to WSDOT.

A planned maintenance stop is coming soon, which will last for about a month.

A receiving pit near Thomas Street at the north end of the tunnel and much of the work needed to receive Bertha are already finished. WSDOT and Seattle Tunnel Partners were able to get much of that done while Bertha was idle for two years because of damage to the machine.

Construction of the double-deck highway is already underway inside completed parts of the tunnel.

WSDOT says STP expects tunneling to finish next summer and the tunnel would open to traffic in early 2019.