SEATTLE -- A contest to name the giant machine that will bore a tunnel beneath Seattle, replacing the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct, produced the name "Bertha," the Washington State Department of Transportation announced Monday.
Bertha already has a Twitter account (@BerthaDigsSR99) with more than 300 followers.
"So nice to finally have an identity," "she" tweeted Monday. "Maybe now the passport agency will take my application."
The winning name was submitted by two entrants: Darryl Elves' fifth-grade class at Poulsbo Elementary School and Elijah Beerbower, a second-grader at Lincoln Elementary in Hoquiam.
They submissions were inspired by Bertha Knight Landes, who was elected Seattle mayor in 1926 and was the first woman to lead a major U.S. city, WSDOT said.
"I'm excited," said Bertha Galaviz, own owns Bertha's Cleaning Service in West Seattle and now shares a name with the big machine.
Early in her life, she was not proud of her name.
"When people met me, they said, 'But Bertha, aren't you supposed to be big?'" she said.
Today she proudly attaches her name to her 25-year-old business. She is eager to see the new boring machine.
"I feel like that's my twin," Galaviz said. "Because that's how you go in life, making your own way. You make your way."
Bertha the machine will be handed over to Seattle Tunnel Partners, the project's contractor, at a ceremony in Japan on December 20. Once testing of the machine is complete, Bertha will be split into 41 parts and placed on a barge for her 4-week voyage to Seattle.
Bertha is expected to arrive in Seattle in early Spring of 2013. She should begin digging next summer, and the students who came up with her winning name will be invited to attend a special ceremony at that time.