AP NEWS

Seattle tunnel contractor will appeal $57M award to state

December 17, 2019 GMT

SEATTLE (AP) — One of the two Seattle tunnel prime contractors says it will appeal Friday’s jury verdict that rejected the companies’ $330 million in claims against Washington state over the breakdown of tunnel-boring machine known as Bertha.

The Seattle Times reports Seattle Tunnel Partners member Tutor Perini Corp., which has a long record of litigation, said in an announcement to investors that it “is disappointed with the jury’s decision and will appeal...”

Seattle Tunnel Partners has argued that a steel pipe which Bertha hit Dec. 3, 2013, caused the breakdown. That pipe had been installed for groundwater testing by the Washington State Department of Transportation.

At the trial in Thurston County Superior Court, the Washington State Department of Transportation’s attorney called the pipe “nothing more than a toothpick” for Bertha’s massive cutter head.

Before the two-month trial, transportation agency attorneys uncovered documents showing that tunnel workers encountered and logged the pipe before digging began.

The four-lane tunnel opened for traffic in February to replace the old Alaskan Way Viaduct. Seattle Tunnel Partner executives haven’t responded to Seattle Times requests for comment.

The jury not only rejected the Seattle Tunnel Partner’s claim but awarded the state $57.2 million in damages over delays in the construction.