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This Week In Seattle Tunnel Project Mishaps: Shit, Meet Fan

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Photo: Ben Brooks

As you've no doubt surmised by now, the Seattle tunnel project is officially at Clusterf*** status.

As for what we know and we don't know, well, a little bit of the former and a whole lot of the latter.

We know that several seals that surround the bearing crucial to the digger's operation have been damaged. We know that the bearing they protect may have escaped unscathed, which would be a good thing. We know that should a replacement be needed, one is available, although no one at the press conference seemed to know where it is at the moment. We know that there will be delays, and we've been told rough numbers, but do we really have any idea how long it will take? Like many Seattleites, Dominic Holden at The Stranger thinks enough is enough when it comes to Seattle Tunnel Partners and WSDOT giving us wishy-washy information.

With more delays and costs piling on, the public deserves to know more about this project. WSDOT held a press conference at 3 p.m. today and invited other reporters. But not me. (Was it something that I wrote?). Maybe they [sic] are trying to avoid hard questions… Dori Monson has been one of the vocal leaders in questioning whether or not the project should even continue. He spoke with Washington Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson about whether or not that was a considering and her answer was no…ish.

"I don't think we're at that decision point yet," said Peterson. "It's obviously at the top of our list to make sure the contractor and the manufacturer get the fix done, get it done as quickly as possible in a safe environment. We will be pushing for that. "If we get to that point where they come back and they have different information than what they had anticipated, we will have to have a conversation with the community.

Finally, if you're interested in the minutia of the project as it develops (or sits still), a blog called Tunnel Watch is providing it. Notable is a recent post in which they outline the legal requirements of all parties, legal requirements that can be walked away from if it comes to it

If STP cannot recover additional costs from Hitachi, HNTB, Insurance, and/or the State, then STP is legally on the hook. But whether it will step up and cover those costs is uncertain. STP is a single-purpose entity; it doesn't have any assets outside of this project; and so if things get bad it can just shut down and disappear. The State can try to go after the underlying partners, Dragados-USA and Tutor-Perini, but the ability of those entities to cover potentially large liabilities may be uncertain as well. With the public turning against the tunnel and all of the parties involved in the tunnel dig turning on one another, it looks like while Bertha isn't moving, the shitshow rolls on.
· This Week In Seattle Tunnel Project Mishaps: Bertha May Be Done Until Summer [Curbed Seattle]
· What we know — and don't know — about Bertha the tunnel machine [PSBJ]
· Why Won't the State Tell Us How Far Behind the Tunnel Is? [SLOG]
· Washington Secretary of Transportation not willing to call 'fail' on Bertha yet [MyNorthwest]
· A Legal Perspective on the Status of TBM Bertha [Tunnel Watch]
· First Strong Whiff of Bertha Blame Game Surfaces [Seattle Weekly]