Seattle Tunnel Partners will try to restart the stranded Highway 99 tunnel machine by Sept. 1, the teams project director, Chris Dixon, announced Friday.
Dixon also acknowledged for the first time that the main bearing shows symptoms of damage. The circular, 35-foot diameter part must be in prime condition for drilling to occur because the bearing contains rolling parts that allow the machines two dozen electric motors to turn the round cutter head.
Over the next few months, a 120-foot-deep pit must be dug in front of the machine so that workers can remove or bypass the cutter head and reach the bearing. Dixon said Friday that all seven of the bearings rubberized seals, which block grit from reaching the bearing rollers, must be replaced.
A spare bearing is now stored in Osaka, Japan, he said, and will be shipped to Seattle so that the job doesnt lose any time if the full bearing replacement is needed.