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Trial starts over Seattle’s SR 99 tunnel construction delays

The trial to determine who is to blame for the construction delays of Seattle's State Route 99 tunnel and cost overruns has started in Olympia.

KING-TV reports jurors heard opening statements Thursday in the trial that's pitting Washington State Department of Transportation against Seattle Tunnel Partners.

The state wants Seattle Tunnel Partners to pay nearly $60 million for delays. Seattle Tunnel Partners says the state, and potentially taxpayers, should be on the hook for over $300 million dollars in damage and delays.

Washington State Department of Transportation attorney David Goodnight argues STP failed to properly train its workers. Goodnight also says STP didn't test or operate the tunnel boring machine properly when digging began in 2013.

Tunnel Partners lawyer John Dingess told jurors the machine broke after it hit a steel pipe buried by the state and that STP didn't know about the pipe until after the machine hit it. Goodnight says evidence will show the pipe had nothing to do with the breakdown.

The trial is expected to last 10 weeks.

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