Jan. 9 update: Still too early to talk timeline
On Jan. 9, 2014, crews continued drilling the third of four planned exploratory shafts in front of Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine. These shafts are being installed where earlier probing detected metal in front of the machine.
The shafts are being used to further identify the limits of any metal in front of the machine and remove as much of it as possible. If no objects are detected or removed from the shafts, the shafts will be filled to form part of an underground barrier that will create a safe environment for workers to enter the machine’s excavation chamber.
So far, no objects have been detected during drilling of the shafts.
Reminder about the steel pipe
Much attention has been focused on the steel pipe fragment that was seen protruding through an opening in the machine’s cutterhead on Jan. 2. While we believe the pipe may be a contributing factor to the tunneling slowdown, it’s important to remember that the overall cause won’t be known until our investigation is completed.
It’s also important to remember that the work we’re doing is very difficult. For the safety of crews and the long-term interest of the project, we must act carefully and thoughtfully. Earlier today, a WSDOT spokesperson said in a media interview that the machine may not begin to operate again for at least a month. In fact, it is too early to speculate on the schedule until we receive information from our contractor.
We recognize that this is very important project and that all Washingtonians have a strong interest in seeing it succeed. We (and Bertha) will continue to provide regular updates about our progress.