The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) says it expects to lose $78 million due to the two-year halt of Seattle Tunnel Parners’ (STP) 57.5ft (17.52m) Hitachi Zosen EPB machine ‘Bertha’, according to a letter from the state project team to insurers. That figure reflects extra spending on administrators, engineers, consulting firms and office space as the Alaskan Way Viaduct (SR-99) bored tunnel replacement goes over schedule. It also includes construction inflation.
Further funds may be needed to demolish the old Alaskan Way Viaduct and build the new waterfront Alaskan Way, which can’t happen until after the Highway 99 tunnel opens, now scheduled for March 2018. The four-lane tolled tunnel was supposed to open to traffic at the end of 2015.
WSDOT outlines its wish to be reimbursed by insurance companies, in the September 23 letter by Brian Nielsen, Deputy Tunnel Administrator.
The Seattle Times reported that this had been added, on October 5th, to a growing file in the Supreme Court of New York state, where insurers have sued STP to avoid paying $143 million toward a temporary access vault and repairs to Bertha. The state says it is not a party to that lawsuit, but STP filed Nielsen’s letter with the court.
The eight surety companies declined coverage and sued, arguing that Bertha’s machine design was not up to the heavy-duty job of boring the 57.5ft (17.52m) diameter tunnel to replace the viaduct, The Seattle Times reported in August.
The state spent $3.25 million extra as of June, and would consume an additional $75 million by the time the project finishes, says Nielsen’s letter, first reported by the Puget Sound Business Journal.
In anticipation of the boring machine’s scheduled restart next month, the state has released a 4-minute video “Getting Bertha back to work,” narrated by STP project manager Chris Dixon. The video includes recent footage of the machine’s repairs.
Drilling is to resume Nov. 23.