'Bertha' resumes digging Seattle's waterfront tunnel

'Bertha' resumes digging Seattle's waterfront tunnel »Play Video
In this photo made with a fish-eye wide-angle lens, "Bertha," the massive tunnel boring machine that is expected to spend the next 14 months drilling a two-mile tunnel to replace the 60-year-old Alaskan Way Viaduct, is shown ready to begin drilling later this month, Saturday, July 20, 2013 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
SEATTLE - The world's largest tunnel boring machine has resumed digging its way under downtown Seattle.

Transportation Department spokeswoman KaDeena Yerkan says worked resumed at 4:48 a.m. Monday, after being shut down since Aug. 20 by a labor dispute. The Longshore union had put up a picket line in a dispute with another union over four jobs moving excavated dirt.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Tuesday that the longshoremen had agreed to allow work to proceed as officials worked toward a larger resolution on that dispute. But as digging got set to restart last week, officials said some of the early material that the machine was tunneling through apparently had a chance to solidify while the machine had been shut down.

Yerkan says operators have some options for making up the lost time.

The tunnel project is part of the state's overall $3.1 billion plan to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the double deck highway along the downtown Seattle waterfront.

The $80 million machine known as Bertha began digging July 30 on a nearly 2-mile tunnel expected to take 14 months. The 58-foot diameter tunnel is scheduled to open in late 2015.