Barge use speeds up Seattle tunneling machine

SEATTLE — The workers boring a highway tunnel under downtown Seattle are now hauling away dirt by both truck and barge.

Chris Dixon of Seattle Tunnel Partners says using barges will allow the work to move faster. One barge can haul the same amount as 200 trucks.

Tunneling was delayed about a month last summer when unions disputed who could load the muck that comes out of the tunneling machine called Bertha. The first barges were brought in last weekend. They are loaded by conveyor belts from the tunnel.

Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce reports both trucks and barges will be used on the project.

The tunnel will carry Highway 99 traffic and allow the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

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