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Monday, January 27, 2014

How Far Behind Schedule Is the Deep-Bore Tunnel?

Posted by on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Slog, I need your help. I'm gonna try a bit of crowd-sourcing here—I've got a big document that you may be able to untangle.

First the background: Bertha the tunnel-boring machine has been stuck about 60 feet under downtown Seattle for more than seven weeks. Officials don't know why, exactly (maybe a metal pipe, maybe the soil conditions, etc.). This delay is in addition to another month-long digging delay last year during a labor dispute. Plus, when she was moving, Bertha didn't make much progress: She advanced only 24 feet in the first month. Officials say Bertha must eventually dig about 35 feet a day through the 1.7-mile route, but that schedule could be in jeopardy. This all raises the possibility of delays and cost overruns, which have been controversies for the $4.2 billion plan to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with this underground freeway.

So how far behind schedule is the project?

I've asked Washington State Department of Transportation officials a half-dozen times to answer that question in plain English. They refuse to make any comment at all.

Given that delays and overruns on this project, the most expensive in Seattle history, are of pretty widespread interest, I requested records from WSDOT that would show the schedule as proposed in July, when digging began. The records division fulfilled my request with a 476-page document that breaks down milestones, schedules, costs, and lots of other info about the project. In theory, the answer is in there (maybe in sections R11 or R12), because I specifically asked for the tunnel-boring machine's schedule during construction. But it's very detailed and technical. Lacking an expert or hours and hours to peruse it (I've got a ton of other work on my plate), I'm just posting the whole thing on Slog to see if you folks can parse the codes and jargon.

Here's the doc.

These are my questions: At what date was Bertha supposed to be her current location, about 1,000 feet into the route (for example, October 20, 2013)? And what location was Bertha supposed to be at by this date (for example, 2,000 feet into the route)?

"I really and truly don't know what the answer is," said WSDOT spokeswoman Laura Newborn when I asked her those questions again today. She acknowledged "nobody was expecting to be down for the count this long." I've requested WSDOT put me in touch with one of the experts working on the project to help answer the questions, but I'm not holding my breath (WSDOT has never been terribly forthcoming with bad news about this project).

Folks who think they have found the answer—or other interesting info, or suggestions for other records I should request—post it in comments or send me an e-mail. Have fun!


Comments (31) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
Well if we have spent 50% of the budget to build 11% of the Deep Bertha Tunnel then all we need to do is locate a few Trillion magic funding fairies and sell their wings to China to pay for it.

The screams from the mass slaughter should be fun.
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 27, 2014 at 1:26 PM · Report this
Kinison 2
Its a shame you guys didn't have a viable plan to entice voters with. I'm sure most didn't want the tunnel, but felt they had no choice but to move on after almost a decade of planning and contracts signed.
Posted by Kinison on January 27, 2014 at 1:42 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 3
I'm making "tunnel cookies" and will serve them with crow.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on January 27, 2014 at 1:46 PM · Report this
Andrew Cole 4
This isn't apropos of anything, but can I just say that seeing "Macklemore and Ryan Lewis Fan" in the corner of Will in Seattle's box has really put a lot of things in context for me.
Posted by Andrew Cole on January 27, 2014 at 1:46 PM · Report this
passionate_jus 5
Off topic but you might be interested:

Today the Indiana House is voting on HJR-3, which would put an anti-marriage equality constitutional amendment on the ballot this November.

The House should take this up shortly.

Live stream of the House:

Also, see:
Posted by passionate_jus on January 27, 2014 at 1:46 PM · Report this
guerre 6
I am not a civil engineer, nor in the construction industry, etc etc, but with my novice eye on page 298 "SR99 TC-04 bored tunnel, banded by reach" under "Activity name" you see a list. on the bottem of the page is "BT * TBM Mining\Precast\much" with numbers and ordinal "reach"s. It then gives starts and finishes. So Dominic you will have to confirm this obviously, but it looks like by Feb 18th 2014 a total of 850+630+380, or 1860LF ( I assume lateral feet) If you want more of my imput, I'd gladly help some more, what number do you want?
Posted by guerre on January 27, 2014 at 1:50 PM · Report this
guerre 7
Here is a screen shot of the relevant section. You can see a "TBM start Mining" entry and a "Tunnel mining complete{01Nov14}"
Posted by guerre on January 27, 2014 at 1:55 PM · Report this
guerre 8
Excuse my garbled writing, I didn't want to be beat to the punch after reading too many pages of this behemoth.
Posted by guerre on January 27, 2014 at 1:56 PM · Report this
guerre 9
Here's that link>

Also, I guess by Jan 13th they were suppose to have gone 1470ft.
Posted by guerre on January 27, 2014 at 1:59 PM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 10
P. 4 We know the TBM was supposed to start digging on 7/22/13 (though at the time of this document they were 22 days behind).
P. 5 They were supposed to be finished digging on 10/24/14.

That's as far as I have time for, but I guess you could interpolate from there.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on January 27, 2014 at 1:59 PM · Report this
I agree with 6. Look at page 98 of 476 of the PDF. In the upper middle is a section with red lines. That section has Activity Names that discuss the TBM (tunnel boring machine). On the right, they mention the Tunnel Drive summary. Each small red section below that represents a date and a distance. For example 850lf (linear feet), 620lf, 380 lf, etc. all those add up to 9720lf. That's about 1.75 miles. So, looking at those sections, we should be around 1600 lf. We should have been at 1000 around October 20, 2013. Looking at the gap, it looks like they anticipated a slow down for the holidays. This is all just speculation of course.
Posted by Five10 on January 27, 2014 at 2:05 PM · Report this
guerre 12
So the only date we have near ~1000ft is hitting 850ft by Oct 22nd.
Posted by guerre on January 27, 2014 at 2:06 PM · Report this
raindrop 13
Isn't there a Microsoft Project (shudder) file of the plan(s)?
Posted by raindrop on January 27, 2014 at 2:07 PM · Report this
psbirch 14
Take all this with a grain of salt-- basic excel math based on TC-04 Bored Tunnel activity ID "BT - TBM Mining" (pg 8). tl;dr is about 6 weeks behind if I'm looking at the right column and my math is correct. We should be at the 3700' mark, and it will take about 3 extra weeks running at 27.4'/day (1.7mi / 330 days) to make up the difference. At a naive cost of @252k/day this could be about $3.85m +/- the 20-day 'float' built into the project budget -- assuming that is that the cost of *not* running Bertha for a day is the same as runnign bertha for a day, which is probably false.

Note that the duration here is 330, which is July 22nd - October 24th less sat + sun but including holidays. Presumably the could pay overtime for running Bertha on Saturdays and Sundays if that cost was less than the expenses due to the delay on other facets of the project.

Here's some math:

Page 8 of 476 TC-04 Bored Tunnel : Activity ID : "BT - TBM Mining"
Line item cost $82,759,052.34
Start Date 7/22/2013
End Date 10/24/2014
Duration 459
Duration less Sat & Sun 327.86 days (matches 330 in the RemDur line from the project summary)
Cost per Day $252,424.12
Distance 8976 <-- 1.7mi * 5280
Ft/Day 27.38 days
1000' Mark 36.53 days
1000' Date 8/27/2013
Today 1/27/2014
Days expired 135
Today's on schedule location 3696 feet
Actual ft remaining 7976
Duration remaining at 35'/day 227.89 days
New estimated date of completion if @35'/day starting tomorrow 9/11/2014
Duration remaining at 27.38'/day 291.33 days
New estimated date of completion if @27.38'/day starting tomorrow 11/14/2014
Overrun in Duration 343.093692
Overrun in Cost $3,846,072.59

Posted by psbirch on January 27, 2014 at 2:11 PM · Report this
The tunnel is so far behind schedule that when it finally emerges on the other side to see the city in post apocalyptic ruin with the Space Needle on it's side, the pilot will climb out of Big Bertha and fall to his knees screaming "You blew it up. Damn you. God damn you all to hell!"
Posted by tkc on January 27, 2014 at 2:13 PM · Report this
guerre 16
page 432 also lists the costs associated with each section of digging, if you want to add that to your report. So the first 850 feet are quoted at $18.3mil, with $10.4mil and $6.8mil for January's 620ft and February's 210ft, respectfully. Interesting to note that these lengths are slightly off from the numbers I previously mentioned.
Posted by guerre on January 27, 2014 at 2:15 PM · Report this
The figures in the image @9 do add up to the correct total of 9270 ft., so that seems the correct set of figures. (The 2nd figure is 620, not 630 as mistyped in @6.) Pro-rating the 3rd milestone, Bertha should tonight reach 850 + 620 + (14/36)*380 = 1618 ft. into her voyage.

I had previously noticed that the WSDOT Bertha website, which is so carefully promoted and designed, divides the boring into 10 segments (not corresponding to the 7 "reaches" or 8 milestones on the schedule @9) but doesn't show the schedule. I know there are uncertainties but I was surprised they couldn't come up with a conservative schedule to publish. I'm trying not to be cynical.
Posted by Bruce on January 27, 2014 at 2:19 PM · Report this
To answer your other question: Bertha should have reached her current position of 1019 ft. on Nov 7, since 1019 = 850 + 169, and 169 is 27% of the distance she was to travel from Oct 23 - Dec 19, and 27% of those 57 days = 16 days starting Oct 23.
Posted by Bruce on January 27, 2014 at 2:24 PM · Report this
psbirch 19
So yeah -- math is hard. Here's another go, which includes the update of 9,720 LF per Guerre and Five10

tl;dr: 100days overrun @ cost of +/- 25.7m

Page 8 of 476 TC-04 Bored Tunnel
Line item cost $82,759,052.34
Start Date 7/22/2013
End Date 10/24/2014
Duration 459
Duration less Sat & Sun 327.86 days
Cost per Day $252,424.12
Distance 9720 Pgs 98/298 Per Guerre and Five10
Ft/Day 29.65 days
1000' Mark 33.73 days
1000' Date 9/7/2013
Today 1/27/2014
Days expired 135
Today's on schedule location 4002.352941 feet
Actual ft remaining 8720 <-- Assumes present distance is 1000'
Duration remaining at 35'/day 249.14 days
New estimated date of completion if @35'/day starting tomorrow 10/3/2014
Duration remaining at 29.65'/day 294.13 days
New estimated date of completion if @29.65'/day starting tomorrow 3/14/2015
"New" total duration 429.13
Overrun in Business Days 101.27
Overrun is Calendar days 141.78
Overrun in Cost $25,562,951.05

Posted by psbirch on January 27, 2014 at 2:26 PM · Report this
Dominic, you got this sentence wrong:

"Officials don't know why, exactly (maybe a metal pipe, maybe the soil conditions, etc.). "

It should read: "Officials SAY they don't know why..."

Because they know but they don't know what to do about it.

That's just my take.
Posted by westello on January 27, 2014 at 2:39 PM · Report this
passionate_jus 21
LiveStream of IN House, working on HJR-3 NOW:
Posted by passionate_jus on January 27, 2014 at 2:44 PM · Report this
Baconcat 23
@2 put another way: it's a shame you're a gullible fuck, Sam
Posted by Baconcat on January 27, 2014 at 2:48 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 24
@19 looks right.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on January 27, 2014 at 2:56 PM · Report this
meanie 25
"nobody was expecting to be down for the count this long."

This is an amazing bold faced lie, considering the project was never up for a public vote and had many many detractors at multiple levels of government and the street.

Also if you want Bertha news, just hang out at the historic triangle tavern all day. The workers who hang out there will tell you everything.

Try doing some news work without the internet for once.
Posted by meanie on January 27, 2014 at 3:48 PM · Report this
Having some past experience in governement construction contracts, what are the liquidated damages clauses? Who pays for what and when?

My guess is that's where the rubber will meet the road.
Posted by CPN on January 27, 2014 at 4:12 PM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 27
#15 I want to have all your babies! NOW! Thanks for the chortles.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on January 27, 2014 at 5:11 PM · Report this
@27 Hey... I thought you said you were going to have my babies.
Posted by floater on January 27, 2014 at 6:21 PM · Report this
The tunnel will contain two lanes in each direction as opposed to the viaduct’s three, and no Western Avenue exit to serve the Belltown, Interbay, Magnolia,and Ballard areas.
Imagine. Only two very narrow lanes of traffic, narrow as is legally possible, in each direction in the tunnel. Currently three lanes of traffic in each direction on the viaduct. NO HOV LANE in the tunnel. MOST expensive project in Seattle's history, MOST expensive 2 miles of narrow roadway in the world! And one direction of town traffic will be down deeper, underneath the other direction of traffic! So it will be the same design as viaduct! double-decker!! Just what we were told was supposedly was wrong with the design of the viaduct!! double-decker!! Brilliant.
Posted by ru on January 27, 2014 at 10:05 PM · Report this
@31 You're going to make me cry.
Posted by floater on January 27, 2014 at 11:37 PM · Report this
seatackled 33

Poached or scrambled?
Posted by seatackled on January 27, 2014 at 11:56 PM · Report this
@31: in the event of an earthquake (which WILL happen soon) the viaduct will collapse and murder hundreds of people. The tunnel will not.
Posted by Eckstein on January 28, 2014 at 12:42 AM · Report this

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