Machine digging Seattle highway tunnel to restart

SEATTLE - The giant machine digging a highway tunnel under downtown Seattle is expected to resume light work this week, after being stuck for nearly two months.

The Washington Transportation Department said late yesterday that Seattle Tunnel Partners' crews plan to finish their underground inspections of the machine's cutterhead today. They plan to have the machine dig two feet forward so they can build the next tunnel ring -- then evaluate the machine and its operating systems.

It's been idle for seven weeks, since Dec. 6.

The Transportation Department said last week that crews found a hard object more than 3 feet wide stuck in the massive spokes of the machine called Bertha. They also found metal and plastic piping in the machine but have not concluded what exactly caused the problems that halted digging. The department offered no new answers yesterday, saying it would take time to review inspection results.