Lawsuit settled over water main damage from tunnel project

VIDEO: Lawsuit settlement in SR 99 tunnel project

SEATTLE — The city of Seattle will receive $26 million in a lawsuit settlement filed this week over damage to water mains from the State Route 99 tunnel project.

In 2016, the city sued the Washington State Department of Transportation and the contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, after settling ground forced the replacement of water pipes in Pioneer Square.

State officials say $15 million will come from tunnel project insurance, $10 million from the state insurance liability account and $1 million from the contractor.

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The lawsuit recalls some of the darkest days for the project to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel.

The machine, named Bertha, broke down in late 2013, and contractors dug a pit on the waterfront so they could access and fix it.

Building that pit involved drawing down groundwater.

The viaduct settled a little in that dewatering, as did some buildings in Pioneer Square.

The city replaced several water mains.

The lawsuit alleged the damage exceeded what was allowed in a preconstruction agreement with the state.

The city and state released a joint statement, saying, "This agreement allows us to keep our shared focus on protecting taxpayers, protecting ratepayers and completing this important project."

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