Gov. Inslee astounded by Seattle tunnel contractor’s decisions to stop quality control

Jan 20, 2016, 8:50 AM | Updated: 12:56 pm
“We do already know that the contractor – for reasons that are just astounding to us &#...
"We do already know that the contractor - for reasons that are just astounding to us - stopped doing quality control work that they had been doing for the first thousand feet," Gov. Jay Inslee told Seattle's Morning News. (WSDOT)

The contractor responsible for operating the Seattle boring machine stopped doing quality control work sometime before a sinkhole opened up at the city’s waterfront.

Gov. Jay Inslee told Seattle’s Morning News that after the sinkhole opened behind Bertha Jan. 19, it became apparent that Seattle Tunnel Partners was not doing what it needed to in order to guarantee safety.

“We do already know that the contractor &#8211 for reasons that are just astounding to us &#8211 stopped doing quality control work that they had been doing for the first thousand feet,” Inslee said.

Related: Seattle considers cottage industry to ease housing, rent concerns

It was a comment that KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross wanted to make sure he heard correctly. The contractor stopped doing quality control work?

For the first 1,000 feet of work, crews with Seattle Tunnel Partners measured the amount of dirt being removed from the tunnel, Inslee explained. That helped prevent sinkholes, by making sure there wasn’t a “void.” But for reasons Inlsee couldn’t explain, they stopped doing that work.

“We are very disappointed that the contractor failed in that regard,” Inslee added.

Inslee ordered the work involving Bertha stopped. The contractor now has to complete a root-cause analysis of how and why the sinkhole appeared and how crews will prevent it from happening again. Inslee hopes this will be done as “soon as humanly possible,” because the project is already two years behind schedule.

“This thing is going underneath the viaduct, and we know how fragile that is,” Inslee said. “Everyone knows a sinkhole under the viaduct could be catastrophic and we cannot have that risk without being assured that they’re going to preform quality control necessary to prevent that from happening again.”

Why not just stop Bertha, before it does some real damage?

It comes down to the money already invested in the project, Inslee explained.

“To throw money overboard and waste it does not seem [reasonable],” he said.

Inslee said the project still has a “reasonable chance of success.”

Local News

Blood reserves are filtered and processed in the central laboratory of the DRK blood donation servi...
Nicole Jennings

PNW blood platelet shortage no longer ‘critical,’ but 2,000 donations still needed

The Pacific Northwest is in need of thousands of blood platelet donations. Blood platelets stop us from bleeding to death when we have a cut.
10 hours ago
Follow @
MyNorthwest Staff

ORCA overhauls system with added features and updated card readers

ORCA's highly-anticipated new website, smartphone app, and real-time value loading for cards launched today for hundred of thousands of transit customers.
1 day ago
ExperTec Automotive technician Adelmo Rodriguez etches a catalytic converter with the cars license ...
Micki Gamez

Catalytic converter theft runs rampant in Seattle, nation sees dramatic increase

Catalytic converters became a hot commodity during the pandemic due to the high-priced metals, such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium, within them.
1 day ago
Olga Syniakova via Verde Music Fund...
Heather Bosch

Songs of support: Artists in Seattle reach out to those who’ve fled war-ravaged Ukraine

Seattle Opera and the Pacific Northwest Ballet Orchestra will hold a benefit concert tonight, Monday May 16th.
1 day ago
Follow @
Hanna Scott

National movement prompts thousands of abortion rights activists to flood the streets of Seattle

A national week of action by abortion rights activists hoping to stop the overturning of Roe v Wade culminated with nationwide mass demonstrations Saturday.
1 day ago
Generic image of the vehicle in which Matteson was last seen. An image of the victim was not issued...
MyNorthwest Staff

AMBER Alert canceled for 8-year-old girl in child abduction on Aurora Ave.

Seattle Police department has issued an AMBER Alert for Kiya Matteson, last seen on Aurora Ave. N near the Bitter Lake neighborhood.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles


Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Gov. Inslee astounded by Seattle tunnel contractor’s decisions to stop quality control