SEATTLE, Wash. -

A federal review found the companies drilling a highway tunnel under downtown Seattle have fallen short of the goal for women and minority subcontractors.

The state Transportation Department said Monday that payments to Seattle Tunnel Partners could be reduced unless they progress toward an 8 percent goal for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises. The federal review found the DBE hiring on the project was less than 2 percent.

The federal civil rights investigation was prompted by a complaint from minority contractor Elton Mason who owns Washington State Trucking in Kirkland. The Seattle Times reports he's looking for work hauling dirt.

Seattle Tunnel Partners did not respond to a request for comment.

The tunnel boring machine known as Bertha has been stalled for more than a month after hitting a pipe.