By Bill Sheets Herald Writer
The latest section being dug met up on Tuesday with a section already drilled, completing the 13-mile tunnel.
The tunnel will carry treated wastewater from the new Brightwater plant, scheduled to open next month, to Point Wells at the Sno homish-King county line.
Crews working for King County will spend the next year putting the finishing touches on the tunnel, said Annie Kolb-Nelson, spokeswoman for the $1.8 billion Brightwater project.
A liner will be installed in the newest, westernmost, 1.9-mile section of the tunnel. A sampling operation will be built at Point Wells to provide a place to test the treated wastewater before it enters Puget Sound. The construction area at the Point Wells portal will be restored and the tunnel will be connected to an outfall pipeline that extends a mile into the water, built in 2008, Kolb-Nelson said.
The tunnel is expected to be used starting in September 2012. Until then, treated sewage from Brightwater will be sent to plants in Seattle and Renton.
Brightwater is expected to serve about 189,000 people, including 109,000 in south Snohomish County.
The latest tunnel section being dug eastward from Point Wells aligned perfectly with the earlier completed section, Kolb-Nelson said.
One of the tunnel boring machines, moving east to west, stalled in May 2009 under Lake Forest Park. It was determined the machine would be prohibitively expensive to repair, so it was left in place. Work was halted while new contractors, Jay Dee Contractors, Inc. and Frank Coluccio Construction, both of Seattle, were hired.
Work resumed in April 2010 with another machine by digging from west to east to meet up with the stalled piece of equipment. Crews recently dismantled the old machine and removed it piece by piece, Kolb-Nelson said.
The tunnel is expected to cost $964 million, roughly half the cost of the entire project.
King County is still battling in court with previous contractor Vinci, Parson, Frontier-Kemper of Kenmore over $206 million in disputed costs, Kolb-Nelson said.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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