Seattle tunnel machine reaches end of long, troubled journey

SEATTLE (AP) — A tunnel-boring machine has broken through a concrete wall beneath Seattle in a troubled multibillion-dollar project to replace a waterfront highway with an underground roadway.

The machine, known as Bertha, reached the end of a 1.75-mile journey Tuesday, years behind schedule. The machine broke down soon after it started drilling in 2013 and didn’t crank up again until last year.

Crews will prepare the inside of the tunnel to handle double-decker lanes of highway that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which was damaged in a 2001 earthquake.

The $3.1 billion tunnel is scheduled to open in 2019. It was supposed to be done in 2015.

Tunnel proponents say it will allow Seattle to open up its waterfront along Puget Sound, which they say has been artificially walled off by the viaduct. Critics slammed it as an expensive vanity project.