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Effort to repair giant tunnel machine stuck under downtown Seattle faces delays

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SEATTLE — An effort to repair the giant tunneling machine stuck under downtown Seattle is going more slowly than expected.

The state Transportation Department said Monday it had been informed by the contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, that it's taking longer than expected to construct an underground shaft that will allow crews to reach the machine's damaged cutter head.

The DOT says it's "no easy task" to build a concrete ring that's 80 feet wide and 120 feet deep. Work on the shaft was expected to be done this month, but could take until the end of August. After the pit is finished, crews will use a massive crane to lift the head of the machine to the surface to repair seals and bearings.

The contractor still expects to resume digging next March and hopes to have the tunnel open in November 2016.

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