Problems for 99 tunnel? Builder stops making key material

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Courtesy WSDOT

SEATTLE — A Frederickson concrete company has laid off most of its employees and stopped production of a critical component needed for the new Highway 99 tunnel beneath downtown Seattle, The News Tribune reported. The company, FPS EnCon, makes semi-circular concrete liners that are essential to create and stabilize the nearly 60-foot-diameter tunnel when construction begins this month.

As the world’s largest tunnel boring machine, nicknamed “Bertha,” cuts through the bround beneath downtown, it installs the concrete liners behind it, forming a stiff, waterproof ring that supports the tunnel roadways and keeps the tunnel from collapsing, the Tribune reported. The boring machine moves itself forward by pushing against those liners.

A Washington Department of Transportation spokeswoman said state officials weren’t fully aware of the situation at the Frederickson plant, according to the Tribune. The two companies involved in the joint venture concrete company said production work was stopped to allow them to restructure their deal and they expected to return to full production by next week.

Read more from the Tribune article here.

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