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WSDOT: Bertha problems worse than first thought, further delays possible

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SEATTLE — Damages to the State Route 99 deep tunnel boring machine are worse than originally thought, WSDOT officials said Monday, possibly pointing to further delays with tunnel completion.

The SR 99 tunnel, which will run about 2 miles under the city, is designed to replace the Alaskan Way viaduct, damaged in a 2001 earthquake. The project is already two years behind schedule as the tunneling machine, nicknamed Bertha, has been slowed and fraught with problems.

In March, crews reached Bertha at a tunnel access points to begin repairs on the much maligned tunneling machine. WSDOT officials told the Seattle City Council that seals were much more damaged than previously thought.

“The damage is much more extensive than what they felt they were going to find,” Todd Trepanier, the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program Administrator, said.

However, the damage is not more extensive than officials were previously prepared to make, he said.  The causation of the damages was not yet released.

An updated schedule for tunneling completion is expected to come out in June, officials said. The timeline is expected to change, but the new dates were not yet known or released by Seattle Tunnel Partners.

Seattle City Councilmember questioned the continued viability of the beleaguered tunneling machine.

“I’m questioning some of the judgement calls that are happening behind a curtain that we don’t have a peak at,” O’Brien said.

This story is breaking and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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  • dg54321

    LOL is anybody even surprised any longer? WSDOT and the contractors they make sure get the contracts to steal our money are in cahoots. Organized crime and government are pretty much one and the same when it comes to unions and their contracts with government. Fleece the taxpayer and claim ignorance, so the idiots can vote for you again next election. Only solution is to flee the state if you value your paycheck, cause they’ll just keep taking more and more of it to line their own pockets with.

  • tootietuttle

    hire Sawant workers at $15 per hour to dig the rest of it…Cheaper and more effective. the whole project is a joke and reflects governments mismanagement of time and resources. Yet, liberals still want to throw more money at inept government to keep fixing the infrastructure.

    • JC

      So you think that the infrastructure in the country is suitable? Needs no repair or replacement? Or that it can be done for free or cheaply?

      • dg54321

        It can be done for far less money and waste than our liberal politicians and their friends in certain “shoe-in” construction companies do it for, 3 or 4 times before they get it right.

  • hellomurica

    Is anyone remotely surprised? This project needed to be canned when this stupid thing initially got stuck. What are they going to do when it invariably gets stuck under an existing structure? Knock the building down to get to it? It’s literally a hole in the ground where our taxes are being thrown in. Gregoire should be forced to pay for every dime past the project’s original estimate. She promised it would be delivered on time and on budget (or was it under budget). Nothing but a political move on her part, and as usual her politician’s lies are costing all of us money.

  • Frank D.

    Time to stop this and fix the Viaduct, this is just one big money pit and the taxpayers are on the hook for this. I hate to say I told you so about the tunnel prigect but I told you so.

    • "peety"

      you realize that means shutting down the viaduct for two years ,and undoing all the work done to date. Conservative estimates are an additional 1 billion to stop now.

  • Paul&Kathy

    Seattle’s politicians and the contractors are making a killing at the taxpayers expense. But in Seattle, money is no object to the liberals there.

  • Tattooed_Angel

    Buahahahahahaha! Anyone surprised by this? I guessed Bertha would be up and running by March 2015… boy was I wrong! I should have said March 2016!

  • "peety"

    disappointing for the state. Wonder was it all caused by one pipe? I suspect manufacturer defects.

    hang on Viaduct!

  • Irwin Busk

    TBM = Terminally Broken Machine
    TBM = Totally Bu**sh** Method
    TBM = Tombed Beneath Mud
    TBM = Tragedy Being Made
    TBM = Thwarted By Muck
    TBM = Tollway Bilking Millions
    TBM = Totals Beaucoup Moolah
    TBM = Trying, But Mired
    TBM = Tardy Bureaucratic Meatheads
    TBM = Throngs of Bleeping Morons
    TBM = Trapped By Mistake
    TBM = Taxes Buried in Mud

  • Sara

    Remember when both liberals AND conservatives voted this project down! News flash to newbies! We did not want this because we knew this would happen. Seattle was a tidal swamp filled with everything they had in the late 1800’s. If this thing can’t handle a pipe then when it hits an old hull or boiler what will happen? The people voted this down like they voted down the stadium but the rich do whatever they want and the politicians are in thier pockets. They wanted a developable waterfront to profit themselves on the backs of the taxpayers. Regarding the comment about letting the Sawant $15 workers dig the tunnel. Yes it would be faster than bertha but they still would have a hard time renting an apartment to come home to shower/sleep because the rich have claimed Seattle as thier exclusively. Rip old Seattle and F you rich A holes. I hope the big quake comes and your precious $$$ waterfront property ends up in the sea preferably with you in it.

  • Tye Dye Tycoon

    Seen the tunnel project on “engineering disasters”, the biggest most high tech tunneling device thwarted by an 8″ pipe. Should have filled in the hole in Dec 2013, tore the viaduct down an built a boulevard.

  • RashadFRamirez

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