24 feet of progress so far for Seattle tunnel

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SEATTLE — The world’s largest tunneling machine has only drilled 24 feet in a month to create a new route for Highway 99 under downtown Seattle.

The Seattle Times reports a delay on fiberglass strands that became stuck near the cutting face of the drill and a now a labor dispute has disrupted the excavation along Seattle’s waterfront. Officials say the pace is about two weeks behind what the team expected.

Before drilling began, state officials estimated it would progress at 6 feet per day to start, and eventually accelerate to 35 feet per day in good soil under downtown.

The 1.7-mile dig is supposed to be finished by fall 2014, and the new Highway 99 tunnel to open at the end of 2015.

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