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Meet Mudhoney: Seattle's newest tunnel boring machine gets a name

The public voted on five choices for the tunnel boring machine's name, including Sir Digs-A-Lot, Molly the Mole and the winner, Mudhoney.

SEATTLE — Seattle residents have decided on a name for the city's newest tunnel boring machine at last: Mudhoney. 

The name honors a rock band founded in Seattle in 1988. 

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) put a creative twist on the boring project. The utility invited the public to vote on the machine's name in March. Voters chose between Daphne, Molly the Mole, Boris the Plunger, Sir Digs-A-Lot and the eventual winner Mudhoney. 

SPU received more than 1,200 name suggestions when they opened submissions to the public earlier this year. 

It’s fitting that a self-proclaimed “underground band” would be chosen to adorn the 18-foot wide machine. The band Mudhoney formed in the late 1980s and was at the forefront of the new "grunge" scene that Seattle became known for.

Frontman Mark Arm says it’s a strange, funny and beautiful honor.

“They gave us a tour of the construction site and that’s when we got even more stoked to be involved. To help keep our waterways clean and stuff like that!”

The tunnel boring machine will be used to dig a 29 million gallon storage tunnel in Ballard to help reduce sewage overflow when it rains.

The project is mandated by a federal consent decree that requires King County to address storm and wastewater pollution.  

Stormwater and sewage share the same pipes in parts of Seattle, which can become overwhelmed when it rains, sending excess water and raw sewage overflowing into the Lake Washington Ship Canal, Salmon Bay and Lake Union. 

The tunnel will be positioned to capture and store excess runoff during storms until it can be pumped out to the West Point treatment plant and processed. It's scheduled to be completed in 2025.

The tunnel will take about 14 months to dig 2.7 miles from Ballard to Wallingford and acts as a holding tank that will redirect the overflow water back to a treatment facility.  

The new tunnel will “help prevent over 75 million gallons of combined sewage overflow from flowing into the ship canal each year,” said project executive Keith Ward.  

The tunnel boring machine recently arrived from Germany. If all goes to plan, pieces of Mudhoney — the machine — will be lowered into the pit this week 

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