Bertha Holes Through Revealing Scrooge McDuck’s Lair

Scrooge McDuck

The long awaited finally happened today: the giant tunnel boring machine known as Bertha holed through in the Uptown neighborhood. However, instead of revealing a four-lane highway tunnel bypassing Downtown Seattle, the hole revealed nothing but a giant money pit that seemed to belong to an anthropomorphized duck–or at least the duck thought so. The duck seemed surprised to have been discovered mid-swim in his heaping piles of gold coins.

“GAH! Me money!” he said, as befuddled Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) workers looked on.

WSDOT chief Roger Millar quickly sprung to action to get to the bottom of this boondoggle and perhaps see if workers could inject some concrete into the money sinkhole to stop the leakage.

“The tunneling contract had nothing about money-grubbing ducks in it whatsoever,” Millar said. “We specified ‘please don’t hit any steel pipes.’ We thought the contractor knew to watch out for colossally greedy waterfowl.”

Will the public get the highway they were promised for their billions of tax dollars? Instead of a 9,270-foot tunnel, it appears the city ended up with an impressively cavernous but admittedly stubby gold-hoarding lair. Secretary Millar could only deflect at this sensitive moment.

“We love highways–we really, really love highways,” Millar said. “We really want to bring you another one.”

Patience, however, seemed to be wearing thin though after the latest snafu.

“We paid four billion dollars for this?” a local bystander said.

“This Duck Can Code”

Meanwhile, the contractor, Seattle Tunneling Partners, seemed equally confused.

“You know, we carefully programmed the tunnel-boring machine and sent it on its way confident it would carve a tunnel through the city’s nether regions, but I guess this duck can code,” a spokesperson said.

It appears the reports of Bertha’s tunneling progress had been ingeniously fabricated by the duck.

Bertha’s progress was a hoax carried out by a tech-savvy duck. (WSDOT)

Fifth Richest Man/Duck In Seattle

Seattle bean counters estimate the duck burst on the scene as the state’s fifth wealthiest billionaire thanks to absorbing the four billion dollar Bertha budget into its money pit. Analysis of the money pit revealed it was actually much larger in scope. The Washington State Budget Office’s working hypothesis is that the duck has somehow been siphoning funds from other WSDOT projects, such as the $4.65 billion SR-520 bridge replacement. The greedy duck still has a long way to go to catch Bill Gates ($86 billion) and Jeff Bezos ($75.6 billion)–who are the world’s two wealthiest people–but as Forbes magazine was quick to point out, neither of them have a giant money pit mainlining into WSDOT’s ever-expanding highway budget.

A special task force convened by Mayor Ed Murray to deal with the duck crisis had initially hoped that the duck could be lured to Mercer Island to nest near others with similar money-accumulating acumen such as Paul Allen and his $18 billion horde. The task force discussed using Medina, which is home to Gates and Bezos, as a lure if the duck proved sufficiently wealthy. Luring the duck away would allow the highway tunnel to be plowed through the lair. So far, the duck has been obstinate that his money pit is located just where he wants and where the most money will be thrown into it.

“Foie Gras Is On The Menu Tonight, People”

With the lure to Mercer Island strategy stalled, the task force turned to the culinary world for a solution.

“Based on my task force’s recommendation, I’ve tasked world-renowned Seattle-based chef Tom Douglas with leading the hunt,” Mayor Murray said. “He’s going to catch this duck and make him pay. Foie gras is on the menu tonight, people.”

Seattle foodies did have some questions. Had Murray considered all the options? Were lower-profile chefs perhaps more up to capturing, torturing via force feeding, and roasting this bird to perfection?  Is Douglas the best chef to roast this duck?

“You can read the 65-page report and see for yourself why this is the best solution,” Mayor Murray said. “Tom’s five-spice duck recipe is both delicious and the only way forward for this city.”

How exactly the duck was able to hi-jack the tunnel-boring machine and turn it into a lair-boring machine is still under investigation. The machine dubbed Bertha is named after the one and only female mayor in Seattle history, Bertha Knight Landes, who held office from 1926 to 1928. A local pundit presented an alternate hypothesis for the tunnel hi-jinx.

“So they named it after the only female mayor? After 56 male mayors they name the biggest boondoggle in city history after the one female mayor in that epic sausage fest? No, no, no. This is an elaborate plan to discredit female leadership in the self-declared most progressive city ever. We must fight back against this smearing. Henceforth, I will call this ill-fated machine the Ed Murraymobile in honor of its creator, legislatively speaking. I thank the duck for exposing the patriarchy.”

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Doug Trumm is The Urbanist's Executive Director. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.