Seattle’s newest massive tunnel-boring machine has been dubbed MudHoney, after the grunge rock pioneers who began performing in Seattle clubs more than three decades ago.

Seattle Public Utilities launched an online vote to pick a name for the 900,000-pound drill that will spend the next 14 months digging a 2.7-mile tunnel from Ballard to Wallingford.

MudHoney emerged the overwhelming winner, with more than 76% of the vote. Other finalists included Daphne, Molly the Mole, Boris the Plunger and Sir Digs-A-Lot.

In the end, it wasn’t close. The final tally, with more than 34,000 votes cast:

  • MudHoney – 26,119
  • Sir Digs-a-lot – 6,066
  • Molly the Mole – 793
  • Daphne – 733
  • Boris the Plunger – 612

The tunnel-boring machine, Seattle Public Utilities wrote in explaining MudHoney’s inclusion, “loves mud and is pretty sweet.” But there’s also a whiff of double entendre, perhaps best left unexplained: The tunnel will ultimately store sewage and polluted stormwater.

Mark Arm, the band’s longtime frontman, called the namesake tunnel-boring machine a “pretty crazy and weird honor.”

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For a band whose biggest hit is “Touch Me I’m Sick” and whose most recent album is “Digital Garbage,” Arm thought a massive sewage tunnel was a worthy tribute.

“Mudhoney, dirt, mud, sewage, it all kind of fits,” he said Monday. “Runoff, toxic waste, you know, that fits the band.”

(The band is Mudhoney, lowercase “h”; the big underground drill is MudHoney, capital “H.”)

“Since the late ’80s, Mudhoney, the Seattle-based foursome whose muck-crusted version of rock, shot through with caustic wit and battened down by a ferocious low end, has taken a stand against overflows into our waterways,” Seattle Public Utilities wrote.

The tunnel-boring machine is part of a $570 million, 11-year mega-project. Funding comes from the city (65%) and the county (35%) and ultimately, largely from your utility bills.


The machine arrived in pieces from its German manufacturer about six weeks ago. In the coming weeks, it will be lowered by crane, still in five pieces, into an 80-foot wide, 70-foot deep hole. Once lowered, the beast will be assembled — an earth-moving locomotive that will carry a 450-foot train and dig a tunnel 18-feet, 10-inches in diameter.

Currently, drainage basins in Queen Anne, Ballard, Fremont and Wallingford overflow an average of about 144 times a year — basically any time there’s heavy or prolonged rain, the city said. Once the project — which is mandated by a federal consent decree that requires the county to reduce storm and wastewater pollution — is completed in 2025 (hopefully), overflows should drop to fewer than six per year, the city said.

“If it brings attention to a good civic project like this, I’m all for it,” Arm said.