Tunnel project stalled by labor dispute, technical issues

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by LINDA BRILL / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on August 28, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 28 at 7:00 PM

The Highway 99 deep bore tunnel project is stalled because of a labor dispute and technical problems with the boring machine.

Longshoremen, picketing in front of Terminal 46, are preventing the movement of soil, according to a spokeswoman for the Seattle Tunnel Partners.

The union says Longshoremen should have the jobs of loading and running the conveyor belts of tunnel dirt along the waterfront.

Tunnel Partners gave those jobs to building trades workers from another union and the issue is now before the National Labor Relations Board.

The argument is over just four jobs that could shut down the two billion dollar taxpayer funded project.

"The preservation of traditional Longshore work. Somebody has to load that material to the barges and we've done that for over 80 years at the Port of Seattle," says Local 19 President Cam Williams.

The giant drilling machine, Bertha, has cut only 24 feet, after a month of boring.

They thought she would advance six feet a day and eventually dig faster to 35 feet a day. But big strands of fiberglass have clogged Bertha's blades.

Fiberglass was used instead of steel re-bar to shore up the concrete wall and Bertha couldn't chew through it.

Seattle Tunnel Partners says the problem has been fixed but boring is stopped now because of the labor dispute.

 

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