- Once again, the tunnel-boring machine dubbed Bertha has been taken offline, and the $1.35 billion Alaskan Way Viaduct is on hold, the Associated Press reported. Washington State Department of Transportation officials and Gov. Jay Inslee stopped all digging on the project until they determine what caused a large sinkhole to form over Bertha.
- The sinkhole measures 35 feet long, between 20 and 25 feet wide and 15 feet deep and already has been filled with concrete, the AP reported. Separate from the sinkhole, WSDOT officials say a barge carrying excavated soil tipped and dropped material into the water next to the project causing a hazard to workers and the public.
- Bertha had just started tunneling again in late December after a two-year delay. WSDOT is suing STP for the delays, but STP claims WSDOT failed to inform them about a 119-ft steel well casing omitted from the tunneling plan, resulting in damage to Bertha.
When Bertha started tunneling again, project officials said the tunneling portion of the Viaduct project would be complete by January 2017 and open to traffic by April 2018, three years after the original finish date. Those dates could be pushed back if the cause of the sinkhole is not found quickly.
Additionally, when WSDOT filed its lawsuit in October, it claimed the delays had cost $78 million due to the necessary additional expenses of administrators, engineers, consulting firms and office space. WSDOT officials at the time said they would ask the court to stay the suit until the tunnel was complete, and there's no word as to whether this latest delay will change that.