10/21/2014

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Insider information reveals Bertha's ongoing woes

Insider information reveals Bertha's ongoing woes

SEATTLE -- New documents reveal it's going to be an uphill climb for Bertha down underground.

The Problem Solvers obtained hundreds of internal emails, reports, documents and schematics and they paint no easy task for WSDOT and the contractors, Seattle Tunnel Partners.

In a "tunnel update" report ten days after the December 7 stoppage, there appeared to be problems in coordination out at the dig site.

"There is no clear point person from STP out there making decisions about surveying existing utilities, layout, or changes to the plans. The confusion this creates is causing this work to take longer than it should," the report reads.

In January, a construction oversight supervisor wrote that "it appears that WSDOT and STP are not on the same page regarding what is expected from this process."

The same week, a different contractor tasked with compiling reports sent repeated emails trying to get an answer about where to look for information in one centralized location.

She wrote "nothing's readily apparent" when searching for critical information.

But these problems and the blockage are just the latest issues. Bertha wouldn't have been on track anyway.

Another internal report shows that Bertha appears to have never been on schedule at all. A blue line on a graph shows a deviation below STP's allotted timeframe to get the tunnel bored by October of 2014. The current timeline is flat lining since the stoppage.

STP referred all of questions to WSDOT. The department said it is going to look into some of these issues and provide more detail soon. The company focusing on the damaged seals, Hitachi Zosen, should have a repair plan in the next few days.

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