Last night, at a taping of Seattle Channel's "Ask the Mayor" at the New Holly Gathering Hall in Southeast Seattle, Mayor Ed Murray said that if the companies that are digging the downtown deep-bore tunnel can't figure out a way to fix their Hitachi-built tunnel boring machine (AKA Bertha) and get it digging again (the machine has been stalled since December, and the state department of transportation has confirmed that tunneling won't get underway again until next March at the earliest), the city will have to "step in with alternate plans," like a cut-and-cover tunnel. 

Asked about the stalled tunnel project, Murray said, "What has happened with Bertha is a pretty significant problem. Now, megaprojects generally have pretty significant problems at some point. This is design-build, which means the companies that took it on are responsible for trying to make it work. If they can’t, we have to step in with alternate plans."If the companies are not able to fix Bertha then we will work cooperatively with the state to make that work. Is it a cut and cover? We definitely need the capacity through there. So we’re going to have to look at alternatives."

"This is a very important corridor and it’s an incredible opportunity for us to restore our waterfront. But it’s not going to be easy. It’s very complicated. I’m not going to sugar coat this. This is a significant challenge. If the companies are not able to fix Bertha then we will work cooperatively with the state to make that work.

"Is it a cut and cover? We definitely need the capacity through there. So we’re going to have to look at alternatives. But I think right now the only alternative is to work with the companies [to ensure] that they get the tunnel dug in a reasonable amount of time."

We have a call out to Murray's office.