Opinion

Time to think big about Big Bertha | Pat Cashman

If you Google (or Bing, in deference to Microsoft) the words “Big Bertha,” the first thing that comes up is the name of a golf club. Next, comes the name of a super-heavy military howitzer, followed by a Guinness world record-holding cow. All of those Big Berthas share the ability to generate some degree of effective movement.

Then comes Seattle’s Big Bertha, the tunnel boring machine that is now sitting underground as motionless as a set of dinosaur bones.

The Department of Transportation says the problem with the $80 million stationary behemoth is that it has “leaky seals.” That was exactly the same excuse the Seattle Aquarium used when they temporarily shut down a few years ago.

So now, with Big Bertha being out-paced by slugs and glaciers, progress on the underground tunnel dig is progressing at the rate of zero feet per day. Or less.

It doesn’t help that Bertha was named in honor of Seattle’s only female mayor from 1926, Bertha Knight Landes. “Gee, thanks a lot for the swell tribute,” Mayor Landes might say. “Could you have considered “Big Greg (Nickels) instead?”

So while the gigantic boring machine sits as idle as a Sonics fan, why not try and make some money on it? Why not add Big Bertha to the area’s major tourist attractions? Seattle already has a very popular underground tour – why not introduce another one?

Charge a healthy admission fee to hikers, joggers and bicyclists who would love to take a gander – and bring in food trucks and souvenir vendors hawking plastic Big Bertha Pez dispensers.

And what a memorable setting for small weddings, bar mitzvahs and kids birthdays.

Marketing the venue would be easy:

Need a fun spot for a bachelor party? Let Big Bertha entertain you!

How about renting it out as an off-leash area for family dogs? (Clean-up not included).

Plus, it’d be a nifty spot for taking prom photos too – a romantic setting – in a tunnel-digging-project sort of way.

Yes, there will be push-back from transportation officials and the like, but what’s so wrong with trying to make the project pay for itself, while Bertha lies inert, in earth?

The D.O.T. says the earliest they will get Bertha moving again will be September. Perhaps, but have they really tried everything?

WD 40 got my lawn mower working last summer.

Duct (duck) tape can fix about anything.

And Remember on Happy Days how Fonzie would give the jukebox a whack – and it would suddenly start playing?

In any event, let’s root for Bertha to be a big bore again someday – the Kim Kardashian of tunnel digging.

You go girl!

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