(CBS Seattle) — The Washington State Department of Transportation announced it won’t be until March of 2015 before Bertha, the machine boring the State Route 99 tunnel in Seattle, will dig again.
Bertha’s stoppage means there will have been a 16-month delay in the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project.
In December of 2013, the machine only recorded four feet of digging.
Crews are being forced to build another pit similar to the machine’s launch pit to repair the broken boring machine –which has been stagnant underneath the SODO neighborhood since December.
Officials on the project believe tunnel set to replace the viaduct will not be open until November of 2016.
“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,” Chris Dixon, Seattle Tunnel Partners project manager said in a statement. “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.”
According to KIRO 7, the repair schedule will include time to accommodate potential improvements to the machine that Seattle Tunnel Partners 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.
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