Danny Done



Bertha is now boring into Belltown as it breaks into yet another zone under Seattle. This comes after some of the fastest progress the machine has made.

If it seems like it hasn’t been that long since Bertha went from one zone to the next, it hasn’t. After spending nine days at a maintenance stop, Bertha began mining into zone 7 on Oct. 31. One month later, the boring machine has exited that zone and has moved into zone 8 (out of 10 total zones).

Where Bertha hit its deepest point

That’s relatively fast compared to the previous segments that the boring machine has moved through, though Laura Newborn with WSDOT notes that crews previously went through lengthy maintenance stops which slowed their pace.

“The 1,011 feet of progress made in November was the most tunnel Bertha’s crews built in a month,” Newborn said. “There were no longer maintenance stops required in November outside of the regular maintenance performed on the machine during the weekends.”

Also, previous stretches, such as zone 2 and 3, were shorter in length. It took Bertha a bit longer to get through those, however, as maintenance stops were planned during those segments. For example, while it took around a month to travel through zone 2 — a relatively short segment — it took well over a month to move through the next leg of the trip despite being roughly the same distance. That’s because crews had to stop for maintenance in zone 4 that almost took a month.

The progress overall is looking good for the tunnel project, which started back up in late 2015 after stalling for two years. Since exiting the access pit in January 2016 — Bertha has gone from zone 1 to zone 8 in nearly 11 months. There are roughly 3,174 feet to go until the machine will exit the tunnel. Once finished, Bertha will have bored 9,270 feet.

Where’s Bertha?

At this point, the boring machine has moved forward 6,096 feet under Seattle and crews have constructed 929 concrete rings to form the tunnel.

Zone 8 — out of 10 zones — stretches from Lenora Street to just past Bell Street. It crosses diagonally between 2nd Avenue and 4th Avenue. WSDOT notes that this is a region that has seen quite a bit of human intervention. And that has affected the soils in the area. The area above Bertha is part of the famous Denny regrade where massive amounts of dirt was moved.

This is also where Bertha began moving up to the surface after hitting its deepest point in its journey. The machine will also have to pass under the Battery Street Tunnel before exiting zone 8.

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A Seattle city councilwoman said she has volunteered Seattle for two safe injection sites for heroin users in Seattle: one in Belltown and one in Lake City.

“The county was pretty specific about saying we’re not sure, outside of Seattle, who’s ready for it,” Councilwoman Sally Bagshaw said, referencing the King County Heroin Task Force’s recommendations in September. The task force recommended one site in Seattle and one in King County.

“We raised our hands and said, ‘Then let us try two, let us pilot two.’ And maybe one down here one in North Seattle, as an example, because we do have the facilities and the place – one in Belltown, one in Lake City. We’re ready to go, but we need some help,” Bagshaw said.

Safe injection sites are designated clinics where addicts can shoot up legally.

Shea Saxe said he’s in favor of it but has specific concerns.

“I think the city absolutely needs it, but the neighborhood where the site is located must approve of it in order to mitigate the tensions which are sure to come,” he said.

Vancouver is home to the only safe injection site in North America, Insite. KIRO 7 visited earlier this year and saw how people receive clean supplies to shoot up under medical supervision, with access to social services. But we also found people using drugs right outside.

In Lake City, Rachel Guthrie, who works in social services in the neighborhood, was in favor of the sites.

“When you provide people with a safe space, and maybe with connections to resources for ending drug addiction if someone is choosing that, that’s a step in the right direction,” she said.

But that’s not convincing to Celia Martinez, who works in Belltown.

“I think it’s just going to increase crime,” she said. “I understand people need to get help, but I don’t think this is the best setting.”

At the Vancouver site, the manager said since opening in 2003, the overdose death rate in the area around the clinic has dropped 35 percent. But the clinic also estimates 15 to 20 percent of people using the site come from other parts of the country specifically for it.

It is unclear whether and how the public will get to weigh in on where the safe injection sites in Seattle might be located.

KIRO 7 contacted Councilwoman Bagshaw’s office multiple times throughout the week but did not receive any replies.

In Seattle, public overdoses are on the rise. Supporters say so-called safe injection sites are a way to combat the overdoses. In a recent KIRO 7 News investigative report, we mapped out where overdosing cases happen.  Here’s a 2016 map.

Featured photo source: Wikipedia Commons

More than two years ago in August 2014, ground was broken on a 41-story mixed-use project known as Potala Tower. However, development stopped a year later when the developer, Lobsang Dargey, was accused of stealing millions from the project’s investors. Earlier this year, a judge ruled that two new developers could partner to complete it, and that plan is now progressing.

The new developers, Binjiang Tower Corp and Molasky Group, are moving forward with construction on the building at 2116 4th Avenue.

When Potala Tower is complete, there will be 339 residential apartments, 142 hotel rooms, and 1,824 square feet of retail space on the ground floor. Underground parking will be available, with 177 spaces.

It won’t be called Potala Tower anymore either — it will be renamed and rebranded. In addition to the new developers, new investors have joined the project along with some investors from the initial EB5 project with Lobsang Dargey.

Featured photo credit: Weber Thompson.

Syndicated from Eater Seattle

Earlier this month, Eater broke the news of The Coterie Room’s changeover into Cursed Oak, a cocktail bar from new owners Mike Carroll (former bar manager of Belltown neighbor The Whiskey Bar), Josh Sharpe, and Clif Ephan. The space has been remade into a moodier version of its former self, but the cascading, two-tiered chandelier, a focal point through the venue’s multiple iterations, remains.

As of last weekend’s soft opening, Cursed Oak is ready for business. In addition to original cocktails, there’s a food menu of New American dishes like a goat cheese gnudi with chanterelles and spinach, braised lamb shank with cauliflower cream and purple potatoes, and a bourbon-marinated hanger steak with a potato cake and foie gras sauce. The food comes courtesy of “Top Chef” season 14 contestant Simon Pantet, whose Seattle resume includes stints at The Rendezvous, Tavolata, and, most recently, Single Shot.

The bar is currently open only for dinner and late night bites, but look for a brunch program to launch after the first of the year. There’s also a grand opening celebration scheduled for November 11; check Facebook for more details as that date approaches.

The opening of Cursed Oak represents the end of an era for Seattle restaurant group McCracken Tough, which owned The Coterie Room in the same space. That venture operated as a fine-dining restaurant for two years before it was converted into an event space in September 2013. Chef-restaurateurs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough have seen each of their ventures fold recently: their Spur Gastropub next door to The Coterie Room closed in April, The Old Sage went under in June, and, finally, Tavern Law was sold shortly thereafter.

A pedestrian woman was hit by a car between 7:30 and 8 a.m. on Monday, October 10th, resulting in life-threatening injuries. Firefighters had to lift the car in order to get the injured woman out of the wreckage.  

Once retrieved, the 55-year-old woman was taken to Harborview Medical Center for treatment of her life-threatening injuries. According to hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg, the woman was in critical condition last Monday.

The accident occurred at the intersection of Wall Street and 5th Avenue, and was so extensive as to block the intersection. When SPD officers spoke to the driver, they found no signs of impairment. The cause of the accident wasn’t immediately provided, but because the car was in the middle of a crosswalk, the woman may have been hit because the driver didn’t see her attempting to cross.

Detectives are still investigating this accident.

Featured photo source: Vernal Coleman for the Seattle Times.