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Monday, April 21, 2014

Tunnel Machine Taking a Year Off

Posted by on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 1:12 PM

Nothing to see here.
  • "South portal construction" from WSDOT on Flickr
  • Nothing to see here.

KIRO's Graham Johnson just tweeted this:

Bertha has moved four feet since December of last year. WSDOT last estimated that the tunnel machine might start again as early as this summer. Dominic Holden wrote about all the potential problems with the tunnel project back in July of 2010.

UPDATE 1:22 PM: It's official! WSDOT still plans to open the tunnel in November of 2016. I've included the state's press release on this after the jump.

SR 99 tunneling machine to resume digging in March 2015
As $750 million in tunnel-related construction continues, contractor eyes November 2016 tunnel opening

SEATTLE – The State Route 99 tunneling machine will resume digging by the end of March 2015, according to a schedule released today, April 21, by the project’s design-build contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners.

Construction will begin late next month on the pit STP will use to access and repair damage to the machine, which stopped tunneling in December. Building the pit is the first of several steps STP has laid out to resume tunneling:

Late May: Begin building the access pit’s underground walls.

Late July through September: Excavate the pit.

October: Remove the machine’s cutterhead and begin repairing damage to the seal system and main bearing.

February 2015: Test the machine to ensure it is ready to tunnel beneath downtown.

Late March 2015: Resume tunneling.

These construction activities will be addressed in accordance with the SR 99 tunnel contract. While this timeline delays tunnel boring by up to 16 months, STP hopes to recover as much as four months of schedule to meet WSDOT’s original tunnel opening date of November 2016. STP had proposed opening the tunnel in late 2015.

“Resuming tunneling will take longer than any of us would have liked, but making these repairs is a significant engineering challenge that must be done safely,” said Chris Dixon, Seattle Tunnel Partners project manager. “We are committed to this project, and to taking the necessary steps to recover time and open the tunnel to drivers by WSDOT’s original target date.”

STP has informed WSDOT that crews will replace the machine’s main bearing and install a more robust seal system, which could include strengthening the seals, installing redundant systems, and adding monitoring equipment. Additional details will be included in a plan to be submitted to WSDOT for review by June 16.

The repair schedule will include additional time to accommodate potential improvements to the machine that STP or the machine’s manufacturer, Hitachi Zosen Corp., might choose to make after the cutterhead is removed and crews are able to perform a full inspection. WSDOT will work with its strategic technical advisory team, made up of international and national tunneling experts, as well as consultants, to review the plan.

“We are disappointed by this delay, but we believe the new schedule is moving in the right direction,” said Todd Trepanier, WSDOT’s Alaskan Way Viaduct program administrator. “We’ll continue to work with STP in their efforts to resume tunneling. We’re also focused on the rest of the program, which includes more than $750 million worth of work at the tunnel portals and elsewhere along the SR 99 corridor. That construction is not affected by the tunneling stoppage and continues full speed ahead.”

West of Seattle’s stadiums, crews are building the future connection between the tunnel and the new section of SR 99 that was completed in 2012 after the viaduct’s southern mile was demolished. Crews are also making progress on the south portal operations building, which will house lighting, ventilation, emergency systems and other vital components needed to operate the tunnel.

Meanwhile, at the tunnel’s future north portal, crews are building the connection between the tunnel and Aurora Avenue North, the north portal operations building and the 80-foot-deep pit where the tunneling machine will emerge at the end of its journey beneath downtown.

Work is also ongoing in Frederickson, Wash., where crews have manufactured 72 percent of the concrete segments that are pieced together to form the tunnel’s exterior walls.


Comments (33) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
Or 5

Or never

Time to cancel it and get a refund
Posted by Will in Seattle on April 21, 2014 at 1:16 PM · Report this
What a colossal debacle.
Posted by CPN on April 21, 2014 at 1:20 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 3
never give up, WSDOT! it's going to be awesome!
Posted by Max Solomon on April 21, 2014 at 1:22 PM · Report this
McGinn 2017: Mike Was Right.
Posted by DOUG. on April 21, 2014 at 1:24 PM · Report this
sloegin 5
This will really tank Gregoire's polling numbers.
Posted by sloegin on April 21, 2014 at 1:27 PM · Report this
biffp 6
Mike had four years to act on his promise that got him elected. He did nothing meaningful to stop.

This isn't even the final. That tunnel will bankrupt the city. Why in God's anyone favored it over the surface option I will never understand having lived through the Big Dig in Boston.
Posted by biffp on April 21, 2014 at 1:33 PM · Report this
fletc3her 7
Does it cost a lot? Hitachi has to do the repair, but otherwise don't we just furlough all the workers or shift them to do what work they can on the North portal?
Posted by fletc3her on April 21, 2014 at 1:38 PM · Report this
@6: The mayor of Seattle has only so much power over a STATE highway. This is Gregoire's debacle. McGinn said she couldn't be trusted, and he was right.
Posted by DOUG. on April 21, 2014 at 1:38 PM · Report this
DavidG 9
Shut. It. Down.
Posted by DavidG on April 21, 2014 at 1:43 PM · Report this
IndicaDogwalk 10
This is so fucked up. I really wish my vote would have counted for something. I voted against this joke of a tunnel and now I'll be paying for it for a long, long time.
Posted by IndicaDogwalk on April 21, 2014 at 1:51 PM · Report this
rejemy 11
Can't wait for it to get stuck again right under a 50 floor building downtown.
Posted by rejemy on April 21, 2014 at 1:53 PM · Report this
Kinison 12
@8 "McGinn said she couldn't be trusted, and he was right."

Not really, his response was over cost overruns. Until the project goes hundreds of millions of dollars into the red and Olympia decides Seattle has to pay for it, then and only then would McGinn be right.
Posted by Kinison on April 21, 2014 at 1:59 PM · Report this
I'm sure it will finish 'on time'. There's no way any additional problems might occur...
Posted by deign_to_say on April 21, 2014 at 2:12 PM · Report this
DOUG. 15
@12: You're right. I'll check back in then.
Posted by DOUG. on April 21, 2014 at 2:22 PM · Report this
Dade 16
Slog poll: Did we tell you so?
-Told you so
-Told you so
-(fucking) Told you so
Posted by Dade on April 21, 2014 at 2:31 PM · Report this
seatackled 17
I look forward to getting Zombie John Henry's autograph when the tunnel is completed on time and on budget.
Posted by seatackled on April 21, 2014 at 3:15 PM · Report this
treacle 18
*sigh...* I hate this even more now.
Posted by treacle on April 21, 2014 at 4:13 PM · Report this
biffp 19
@16, you forgot "McGinn told you so."
Posted by biffp on April 21, 2014 at 4:19 PM · Report this
I love their "Never explain, Never apologize" can-do attitude.
Posted by Mugwumpt on April 21, 2014 at 4:31 PM · Report this
lauramae 21
So it has officially turned into the cluster that many feared it would. What the hell with a tunnel anyway?
Posted by lauramae on April 21, 2014 at 4:56 PM · Report this
sperifera 23
Wow. Who could have foreseen these problems ahead of time? I wish someone had said something.
Posted by sperifera on April 21, 2014 at 6:05 PM · Report this
Any elected official who supported this harebrained scheme needs to ground down and used as lubricant for the main bearing, assuming the damn thing ever works again.
Fill in the tunnel, repair the sea wall, tear down the viaduct and be done with it.
Posted by Pol Pot on April 21, 2014 at 10:31 PM · Report this
Cool - I get to use the Viaduct for at least another year.
Posted by Mr. X on April 22, 2014 at 8:34 AM · Report this
Am I the only person who thinks they will complete this one day? I think it will be good once it's done.
I hate the viaduct.

London has tubes, they work, usually very well. England has the Channel Tunnel, 34 miles of underwater tunnel, that was a bigger deal, and is awesome. France in half an hour? Maybe getting to Northgate in 20 minutes might be possible, who knows.
Posted by Chandira on April 22, 2014 at 10:36 AM · Report this
dorimonsonfan 27
Dori Monson predicted this disaster would be over budget and nowhere near on schedule Five Years ago!!He even bet Paula Hammond his job on the air that it would be way over budget and delayed. We need to start paying more attention to Dori and less to wsdot!
Posted by dorimonsonfan on April 22, 2014 at 11:37 AM · Report this
seattlestew 29
And no one wants to be standing at the press conference podium when the firing squad comes out demanding answers and/or heads. Will anyone apologize for this clusterfuck? Will anyone acknowledge this thing has been beset by mistakes that were perfectly foreseeable? Will any "leader" in this city/state ask propose re-thinking this decision? You're gonna hear a whole lot of this to justify continuing with this project.
Posted by seattlestew on April 22, 2014 at 2:28 PM · Report this
Pope Urbane 30
Circle the wagons and double down. Build a new tunneling machine and begin digging from the other side. Problem completely solved. And yes, I do work for the government.
Posted by Pope Urbane on April 22, 2014 at 2:52 PM · Report this
So......Big Bertha just joined our ineffective, grossly overpaid Congress.
Holy. fucking. shit.

@27: Agreed. Especially when WSDOT allows any fool with ten bucks the unquestioned ability to obtain an oversized load permit online, and venture out without a height / weight inspection--all BEFORE taking out an entire bridge on I-5 and dumping unsuspecting drivers and vehicles immediately behind them into the Skagit River by passing another truck, while the McDonald's cheeseburger chomping pilot driver polishes her nails up ahead.
Posted by auntie grizelda on April 22, 2014 at 7:33 PM · Report this
re @31: Maybe the anagram for WSDOT should really be Washington State's Departmentally Useless Mismanaged Bunglers, or WSDUMB.
Posted by auntie grizelda on April 22, 2014 at 7:40 PM · Report this
dorimonsonfan 33
@30,31,32 laughing out loud!
Posted by dorimonsonfan on April 22, 2014 at 8:35 PM · Report this
I want to thank all you progressives who voted for these progressives that wanted a tunnel to help all the rich folks get millions more for their properties once the tunnel is built. Yes those wonderful democrats taking care of the working man brings a tear to my eye. It could be from laughter from how gullible a progressive really is
Posted by behappy on April 22, 2014 at 9:18 PM · Report this
Meanwhile, Metro is fighting for scraps.
Posted by tedwardma on April 23, 2014 at 4:37 AM · Report this
They do realize that they have to do more than just build the tunnel between the portals, right ? There's a road surfaces, emergency exits, fire suppression, etc.…
Posted by ChefJoe on April 26, 2014 at 12:38 PM · Report this

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