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Splash of color for Seattle tunnel project; still no word on Bertha

While we wait for an update on repairs to Bertha, drivers in the area will notice new additions near the south end of the tunnel. (WSDOT image)

While we wait for an update on repairs to Bertha, the giant tunneling machine sitting idle on Seattle’s waterfront, drivers in the area will notice new additions near the south end of the tunnel.

Crews began installing four 40-foot-tall yellow ventilation stacks, built in Longview, at the south portal operations building. Cranes will hoist them into place before bolting them down to the building’s frame.

The Washington State Department of Transportation says the stacks are capable of removing 1.4 million cubic feet of air per minute should it be necessary.

The same type of stacks will be added to the north portal operations building, but WSDOT says their delivery date is yet to be determined.

The buildings will house operating systems, including safety, lighting, and communications. They’ll also be home to WSDOT’s yellow maintenance vehicles.

As for the tunneling?

An update was due from Seattle Tunnel Partners by the end of June, but that deadline, like many on this project, has come and gone.

The latest schedule called for repairs to be completed and digging to resume in August, but that schedule is months old.

The replacement parts arrive machine began in June. The last tweets from Bertha came in early June, showing the new seals and other work being done in May and work to fix the world’s largest tunneling

WSDOT issued a press release reminding the public that tours of the dig site were still available on the day &#8212 July 1 &#8212 we were expecting a timeline update.

The Seattle tunnel project is close to two years behind schedule now and we still have no idea how over-budget it is. There are reportedly nearly $300 million worth of change order requests made by Seattle Tunnel Partners. Who pays for those overruns will likely be settled in court.

Bertha has made it less than 1,100 feet along the waterfront. She has more than 8,000 feet, or about 1.7 miles, left to go.

KIRO Radio’s Chris Sullivan contributed to this report.

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