Big Seattle tunnel drill almost assembled in Japan

SEATTLE — Workers in Osaka, Japan, are nearly finished making a giant tunnel drill for Seattle’s new waterfront Highway 99 tunnel.

The Seattle Times said the world-record 57.5-foot in diameter drill is scheduled to dig below Seattle next year.

The giant cutter head will be attached to a giant machine that is longer than a football field.

The team at Hitachi-Zosen will test the machine before the Washington State Department of Transportation formally accepts it at a ceremony in December.

Then the drill will be dismantled into 41 sections and shipped to Seattle in March. Drilling of the two-mile tunnel is scheduled to start in June.

Breakthrough is scheduled at South Lake Union by October 2014, with traffic to use the four-lane toll tunnel by the start of 2016.

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