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Bertha Won't Start Digging Again Until March 2015

Photo: WSDOT

The original schedule for Bertha, the tunnel boring machine digging her way under Seattle to create the Highway 99 Tunnel, had her completing her job in 2015. Now it appears she won't really get going until 2015. Seattle Tunnel Partners released a new schedule Monday that shows the SR 99 tunneling machine resuming its dig "by the end of March 2015."

Construction will begin late next month on the pit STP will use to access and repair damage to Bertha, 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 machine to ensure it is ready to tunnel beneath downtown.
Late March 2015: Resume tunneling.

The Bertha Twitterfeed says that they still hope to meet the November 2016 deadline to open the tunnel, despite the massive delays. Of course, that also likely assumes the project will not continue to be disrupted by issues, as it has been perpetually since it started digging.

A recent report by Washington's Expert Review Panel for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program said they don't think it's very likely that the project will be completed by the end of 2016, and that was before this announcement.

Also, there's this...

· SR 99 tunneling machine to resume digging in March 2015 [WSDOT]
· @BerthaDigsSR99 [Twitter]
· Seattle Tunnel Still On Budget But Behind Schedule [Curbed Seattle]
· All Seattle Tunnel coverage [Curbed Seattle]