Looks like we can no longer blame the world’s largest (and most unreliable) tunneling machine for the sinking and shifting and cracking landscape in Pioneer Square. The Washington State Department of Transportation is now saying that excavation efforts to retrieve the broken contraption was not a factor in some 30 buildings settling an inch or more. Rather, it could be all that groundwater pumping that led to the sinking, but that has not yet been confirmed.
In any case, WSDOT has informed work crews that, beginning Tuesday night, they can resume digging the 120-foot deep access pit to the hapless deep-boring beast, which has been stuck in the muck for more than a year. Crews stopped work at the pit on Dec. 12 after about one inch of ground settlement was measured in the surrounding area.
A crack was also discovered in the pavement on King Street near First Avenue South, prompting a temporary road closure.