Report says Highway 99 tunnel will be late but will meet budget

SEATTLE — The stalled Highway 99 tunnel under downtown Seattle could be late but still meet its budget, the governor’s expert review panel said Thursday in a report.

The 43-page document predicts the four-lane tube will be completed in the first half of 2016 and open by mid-November, The Seattle Times reported.

Costs shouldn’t overrun the overall $3.1 billion for the project to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the experts said.

“The ERP continues to be confident that the project is on course to be successfully completed,” the report said.

It warned that strained relations between the state Transportation Department and the contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, could be a problem.

But project administrator Todd Trepanier told reporters in a conference call Thursday afternoon that they had open lines of communication with the contractor, although there were difficult issues.

The department expected to meet with the contractor Friday to hear how long it would take to repair the damaged boring machine and resume tunneling. Another department official said earlier it would be months before the machine named Bertha is moving again.

The expert review panel was created to assess the viaduct replacement project’s financing and assure that schedules, risks and management are reasonable.

The tunnel portion of the project is budgeted at $1.4 billion. At a news briefing Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee said the state needs to continue to be a “vigorous and insistent customer” of Seattle Tunnel Partners.

“They have a legal obligation to finish this tunnel on-time and under-budget,” Inslee said.

Meanwhile, work continues on the project to reroute Highway 99.

Workers have already started reconfiguring the pit used last summer to launch the boring machine. The pit near the waterfront and the Mariners and Seahawks stadiums will become a covered section of highway tunnel.

Crews also are starting work this weekend for future tunnel connections to city streets near what is now the south end of the Battery Street tunnel, not far from the Seattle Center.

Bertha ground to a halt in the first week of December about 1,000 feet into the 1.7-mile tunnel route.

The seals surround the main bearing are broken and have to repaired or replaced. The work will likely involve digging an access shaft.

The completed tunnel will allow the state to tear down the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the 60-year-old double-decker highway along the Seattle waterfront that is in danger of collapsing in an earthquake.

The viaduct will be closed this weekend for a routine inspection. Monitors have already found the viaduct settled nearly half an inch near the tunnel-boring machine. The Transportation Department said that was expected and the viaduct is safe, for now.

———

Information from: Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, http://www.djc.com/

More in Local News

Families begin relocating from public housing complex

Baker Heights is in need of repairs deemed to costly to make, and will be demolished and replaced.

Trail work by juvenile offenders builds resumes, confidence

Kayak Point trails were built out this year by groups from Denney Juvenile Justice Center.

Small fire breaks out at haunted house in Everett

Plastic that was supposed to be noncombustable was sitting next to a hot lightbulb.

Rules of the road for ‘extra-fast pedestrians’ — skateboarders

State traffic law defines them as pedestrians, and yet they are often in the middle of the street.

Distress beacon leads rescuers to Pacific Crest Trail hikers

Two men in their 20s had encountered snow and waited two nights for a helicopter rescue.

City of Everett to give $400K to a nonprofit housing project

The city expects to enter a contract with HopeWorks, an affiliate of Housing Hope.

Everett mayoral campaign is one of the priciest ever

Many campaign donors are giving to both Cassie Franklin and Judy Tuohy.

Some damage undone: Thousands of heroin needles removed

Hand Up Project volunteers cleaned up a patch of woods that some of them had occupied near Everett.

Volunteers clean up homeless camp infested with garbage

The organization’s founder used to live and do drugs in the same woods.

Most Read