Bertha still stopped in tunnel, but new overpass to open

The Seattle TimesJanuary 25, 2014 

Down inside Seattle's Highway 99 tunnel, even an idled Bertha is rooting for the Seahawks with its 12th Man flag displayed, shown here Friday, Jan. 24. Workers have been examining the cutter head of the stalled tunnel-drilling machine. “The investigation is making progress,” an official said.

STEVE RINGMAN — The Seattle Times

Even though the Highway 99 tunnel machine hasn’t budged for seven weeks, roadwork at the surface keeps moving at a steady pace.

A new overpass opens at 5 a.m. Monday, connecting Sodo streets with Terminal 46 at the Port of Seattle. This crossing will help trucks bypass a freight-railroad track — averting the risk of a 20-minute delay.

“If freight can’t move, nobody moves,” said Matt Preedy, deputy director for the state’s Highway 99 program.

The $29 million crossing was completed by Atkinson Construction, the same firm that built a temporary span for Interstate 5 in June, after part of the Skagit River bridge collapsed. To apply the final touches, the southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct exit to South Atlantic Street will be closed all weekend.

Meanwhile, Seattle Tunnel Partners has started to build the tunnel’s double-decked south portal, where traffic eventually will enter the same pit where tunnel machine Bertha was launched July 30.

After mining 1,019 feet, the giant 57-foot-diameter drill has been halted since Dec. 6, when the rotary cutters stopped grabbing dirt. Officials say they don’t know when drilling will resume.

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