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The Latest: Seattle mayor touts ‘construction milestone’

Media members look on as dust fills a pit below while a massive tunneling machine nears breaking through a five-foot wide concrete wall into the disassembly area for the State Route 99 highway, Tuesday, April 4, 2017, under Seattle. After tunneling more than 9,000 feet and building an outer tunnel wall as it moved forward, the boring machine finished digging what will be a two-mile, double-decker traffic tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way viaduct, damaged in an earthquake in 2001. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE (AP) — The Latest on Seattle’s tunnel project (all times local):

12:35 p.m.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray says completing a tunnel that will serve as an underground highway was “a major construction milestone in our plan to reclaim Seattle’s waterfront.”

Murray said Tuesday that the city is one step closer to taking down a double-layer waterfront highway to make room for “our vision of a well-connected 21st century city” serving “pedestrians, transit and sensible car trips.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says the breakthrough is “a historic moment in our state’s transportation history.”

Critics call it an expensive vanity project, and environmentalists have objected to building another highway in Seattle.


11:30 a.m.

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.

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