A worker monitors cable pulley wheels as the machine head from Bertha, the world's largest tunne …
SEATTLE (Reuters) – The world's largest-diameter tunneling machine could resume drilling under downtown Seattle in late November after repairs are completed, allowing a central part of a years-delayed highway project to go forward, Washington state officials said on Friday.
The broken machine, known as Bertha, stopped working in December 2013 after digging just 10 percent of a planned tunnel to replace an aging waterfront highway. It was stuck for more than a year underneath downtown Seattle.
The new timeline for replacing the busy Alaskan Way Viaduct & opening it to drivers is now spring 2018, Washington state Department of Transportation said in a statement. The viaduct was damaged in a 2001 earthquake & is nearing the end of its lifespan.
p> "Tunneling is slated to resume in late November, with the machine emerging at the north end of downtown approximately one year later," the Transportation Department said. "The state is not able to verify the contractor's schedule."
Previously, project contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners said it hoped to have Bertha drilling again by August, yet it pushed that estimate by nearly four months to Nov. 23, according to a timeline provided to the state.
In March, crews hoisted Bertha's 2,000-ton front end from a pit in an attempt to assess damages & make repairs & improvements, which are scheduled to wrap up in the fall.
Bertha's breakdown & other unexpected construction issues have left the $3.1 billion project two years behind schedule & sparked concern approximately even greater cost overruns. The project had initially been slated to cost $2 billion & be completed by 2015.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Eric Beech)