a beautiful commute



Originally posted in 2014.

Below the streets of downtown Seattle there sits a halted underground highway project; it’s a hole in the ground that the residents wish went round and round. Unfortunately, they are watching with bitter breathe the saga of Big Bertha, the world’s largest tunneling machine, as she gets lifted from her 120-foot-deep subterranean home to be patched up so she can be returned beneath the surface to begin to dig again.

There’s a lotta fixin’ to do. The SR 99 tunnel project, which began in summer 2013, had to stop only 1,000 feet into the dig as Bertha was overheating. It turns out when they lifted her 4-million pound front end to investigate they discovered her seal’s were shot, too.The Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP) hope to resume digging by August 2015; there’s only 8,000 more feet to go.

In the meantime, Seattleites can dream of the finished project looking as beautiful as these Photographic Notes from the Underground taken by photographer Nick Frank  and featured in the New York Times’ online style Magazine T. For the last five years, Frank has spent early Sunday mornings photographing subways around the world and capturing their bold colors and graphic designs.

Check in each week as T’s photo editors share “compelling visual projects” in their Viewfinder segment.