Downtown Seattle

Crews digging down to stuck Seattle tunnel machine

Crews digging down to stuck Seattle tunnel machine
A surveyor sets up his gear near the south end of the SR 99 tunnel on Friday, Dec. 6. Bertha, the SR 99 tunneling machine completed her first 1000 feet of tunneling a day earlier. (Photo Courtesy: WSDOT)
SEATTLE (AP) - The Transportation Department says help is on the way for a massive machine that became stuck last month while boring a tunnel under downtown Seattle.

The department said crews started drilling 5-foot wide shafts Tuesday in front of the machine known as Bertha.

The shafts should allow workers to remove a metal pipe in front of the machine and assess any other problems.

The machine ground to a halt on Dec. 6 after running into the 8-inch diameter pipe that had been left in the ground in 2002 after the department checked groundwater in the area.

Bertha is stopped about 60 feet underground and one-tenth of the way toward completing a 1.7-mile tunnel. It will carry Highway 99 traffic and allow the removal of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.