New Cracks Found on Sinking Viaduct; What a Mess

Let’s sum up the horror show, shall we?: Bertha is a bust and repairs to her cutter head will take at least six months (probably more), completion of the the 1.7-mile waterfront tunnel will be delayed for who knows how long, the Alaskan Way Viaduct is sinking – and now comes the news that engineers have discovered new cracks on it.

The Washington State Department of Transportation today revealed that fissures of 1/16th of an inch on the elevated roadway were found during an inspection on March 1, about a half-mile north of the world’s largest deep bore tunneling machine.

“While the cause of these cracks is still to be determined, it is not related to tunneling activity,” said the WSDOT.

More bad news: Crews also discovered signs of movement and widening of existing cracks along girders and supports near Spring and Seneca streets.

WSDOT, though, insists the viaduct is safe for drivers, but they are not taking any chances. So the roadway will close down again on March 22 – a Saturday – for a second inspection to gather more information before they can make repairs.

Engineers will install monitoring devices on the columns to track the movement and growth of the cracks over time. That information will help them identify additional repairs. Crews will also perform tests to determine how these newly discovered cracks respond to heavy loads and possibly fill them with epoxy.

Further closures are possible.

Make that inevitable.

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