- Bertha the boring machine, charged with creating the underground path for Washington state Route 99 to go under downtown Seattle and replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, is ailing and is off the job until March 2015, officials say.
- The machine, which chews a 57.5-foot-diameter tunnel as it advances, got 1,023 feet down its 1.7-mile route before it quit in December, and efforts to push it back to work ended with a decision that it needs its only other $5 million, German-made main bearing.
- Seattle Tunnel Partners, the consortium of Dragados USA and Tutor Perini Corp. that has the contract, will do other repairs at the same time and have Bertha ready for testing in February 2015 and boring the next month – if all goes well.
The company thinks that with a March 2015 restart, it can keep the project on schedule, but it will then have zero latitude for anything else to go amiss. The tunnel is supposed to open on Nov. 1, 2016. Seattle Tunnel Partners' deal with the state Department of Transportation gives the company $100,000 (up to $25 million) for every day it's ahead of schedule and dings it $50,000 daily (up to $75 million) for every day it's behind.