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Object Blocking Giant Tunnel Borer Was an 8" Diameter Pipe

Soulskill posted about 8 months ago | from the at-least-it-wasn't-zombies dept.

Technology 141

An anonymous reader writes "A few weeks ago we discussed news that a tunnel boring machine measuring 57.5 feet in diameter was halted underneath Seattle after running into a mysterious object. Project engineers have now figured out what the object is: an 8-inch-diameter pipe. In 2002, researchers for another project — the replacement of the Alaskan Way viaduct — drilled down into the ground to take water samples. They used the 115-ft-long pipe as a well casing. As it turns out, this well site was listed in the contract specifications given to all bidders for the tunnel's construction. In addition, the crew manning the machine noticed that it was chewing up pieces of metal, and they removed part of the pipe and kept going. Only later did they realize that significant damage had been done to the machine's cutting face. Officials aren't sure how long repairs will take, or how much they will cost."

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Reading and comprehension skills (5, Funny)

petteyg359 (1847514) | about 8 months ago | (#45865881)

Looks like somebody forgot to RTFM.

Re:Reading and comprehension skills (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45865965)

... Big Bertha’s blockage did indeed hit the press, but the media chose to emphasize nonsensical speculation rather than serious discussion. Of course a boring machine like Bertha would not be stymied by a wooden boat, or a rock of any size, or pig iron from a ship’s boiler. Even mankind’s hardened metals, in use today, would eventually melt from the continuous friction, and give way. The decision to withhold this from the news was made at a high level, and in keeping with the ongoing cover-up over the alien presence. Some other excuse will be proffered, involving a failure in Bertha’s bore head, while the humming box encountered is quietly extracted or simply disappears. This attempt to gain traction on disclosure, enlightening mankind, failed, once again, due to the grip the cover-up over the alien presence has in the US.

http://www.zetatalk.com/ning/04ja2014.htm

Re:Reading and comprehension skills (5, Funny)

cold fjord (826450) | about 8 months ago | (#45866023)

Looks like somebody forgot to RTFM.

In this case they get to RTFM: Repair The Fine Machine

Re:Reading and comprehension skills (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866045)

Good news, everybody! We finally found that pipe we lost 2002! I've felt so guilty about not recycling that, but now I can sleep at night. Carry on.

Re:Reading and comprehension skills (4, Informative)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 8 months ago | (#45866267)

(From article summary):- "As it turns out, this well site was listed in the contract specifications given to all bidders for the tunnel's construction. "

Looks like somebody forgot to RTFM.

Looks like they should have had a "Brown M&Ms" [snopes.com] clause in the contract for just that reason.

And if anyone doesn't get the reference (or even more so if you think you do, but don't get what the archetypal ludicrously demanding rock band rider has to do with tunnel boring), read the linked article.

Re: Reading and comprehension skills (2, Informative)

iamhassi (659463) | about 8 months ago | (#45866345)

For those that don't want to RTFR (read the fucking reference) some band use to put at the beginning of the contract that they wanted M&Ms in their room and then at the end of the contract put all the brown M&Ms must be picked out. If they arrived and saw the brown M&Ms they knew the contract was not read and would check to see what else was forgotten and/or cancel the show since the contract was not followed.

Re: Reading and comprehension skills (-1)

berashith (222128) | about 8 months ago | (#45866379)

it wasnt just some band... it was van fuckin halen \m/... and it was david lee roth pretending to be a pretentious douche of a rock star by asking for the m&ms .

Re: Reading and comprehension skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866725)

Capitals. Use them.

Re: Reading and comprehension skills (4, Funny)

msauve (701917) | about 8 months ago | (#45866843)

"david lee roth pretending to be a pretentious douche"

That would be like a duck pretending to be a duck.

Re: Reading and comprehension skills (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | about 8 months ago | (#45866961)

it wasnt just some band... it was van fuckin halen \m/... and it was david lee roth pretending to be a pretentious douche of a rock star by asking for the m&ms .

Right, some oldies band. What he said originally.

Re: Reading and comprehension skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45867279)

Guess you never saw them live - did you ?
Maybe in the 80s ?

Re: Reading and comprehension skills (4, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | about 8 months ago | (#45867377)

I saw them when they were just Station Wagon Halen

Re: Reading and comprehension skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45867997)

Are you a special snowflake, Mr. Fixed Pitch?

Re: Reading and comprehension skills (4, Funny)

Alsee (515537) | about 8 months ago | (#45867095)

it wasnt just some band... it was van fuckin halen \m/

I think you mean van fuckin halen \m&m/

-

Re: Reading and comprehension skills (3, Informative)

kick6 (1081615) | about 8 months ago | (#45868331)

it wasnt just some band... it was van fuckin halen \m/... and it was david lee roth pretending to be a pretentious douche of a rock star by asking for the m&ms .

Actually, according to his autobiogprahy, it was buried in the TECHNICAL part of the contract, and existed to make sure that the promotor/venue read this section so something (like the stage collapsing) didn't occur. What a douche, not wanting to die mid-show killing audience members...

Re: Reading and comprehension skills (4, Interesting)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 8 months ago | (#45866533)

Unfortunately, your summary omits or misrepresents several aspects of the article and in the process dilutes (if not entirely misses) the point, as well as making it less interesting. Honestly, it's only a single-page Snopes article [snopes.com] - if you don't know the story already, it's worth spending a minute or two reading.

Anyway:-

(i) The "brown M&Ms" clause *wasn't* at the end of the contract- where it would have been more likely to stand out- it was (presumably intentionally) hidden amongst all the other countless (but important) technical requirements.

(ii) The clause also stated that if it was not followed *the entire show would be forfeit*. That's a rather major penalty, and one anyone who'd actually been paying atention would be almost certain to want to avoid by following it to the letter. Hence its effectiveness as an indicator.

(iii) You also omit *why* it was so essential that the technical requirements were followed closely. (I could summarise that, but I'd probably just end up rewriting paragraphs that are more effective in context anyway; just read the blooming thing! :-) )

Re: Reading and comprehension skills (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45867733)

TL;DR version.

*Van Halen concerts need a LOT of amperage for their very heavy equipment.
*Venues aren't providing amperage, circuit breakers are blowing, and concerts are ruined. Floors are also being damaged by said heavy equipment and venues are unhappy.
*Van Halen put their exact requirements in their contract so this doesn't happen.
*Van Halen inserts "M&M clause" as a mine canary to deal with bullshit venues that can't read simply documents.
* Brown M&Ms mean call in an electrician to check everything.

Re: Reading and comprehension skills (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 8 months ago | (#45868143)

Same mistake as the previous guy- in an attempt to "summarise" the article you've omitted details that make clear the logic behind the clause, and introduced inaccuracy.

Van Halen concerts need a LOT of amperage for their very heavy equipment.

Still misleading; makes it sound like the amperage was needed because the equipment was "heavy". Also, you're extrapolating things that weren't actually mentioned in the article.

If you read the article, the heavy equipment (which could- and did- damage floors that weren't designed to take it) was the *only* specific, detailed example given of a problem that actually happened, and wasn't related to the issue of amperage.

And the latter was only mentioned as a potential clause (" So just as a little test, in the technical aspect of the rider, it would say "Article 148: There will be fifteen amperage voltage sockets at twenty-foot spaces, evenly, providing nineteen amperes . . ." This kind of thing."). They didn't say anything about circuit breakers blowing- that may have happened, but you're still guessing.

*Van Halen inserts "M&M clause" as a mine canary to deal with bullshit venues that can't read simply documents.

Despite the fact I pointed out the problem with the *original* guy's summary of this part, you've repeated his mistake. You haven't explained *why* the clause was effective, i.e. the forfeiture penalty that anyone who'd actually read it would go out of their way to avoid... meaning that anyone who didn't do that clearly *hadn't* read it, or any of the other clauses properly.

The problem is that your summary may work as a reminder to someone who's *already* read the article and understood the points being made. But by definition, that's not what a "tl; dr" is aimed at.

Speaking as someone who's definitely too longwinded, I have great respect for the ability to be concise. Summarising by cutting corners isn't that hard. And burying all the information in a pile of semi (or not at all) relevant waffle isn't either- it's all too easy for geeks like me.

Actually distilling the *important* information into a concise but listenable *and* accurate form? That's harder to do well than most people think. :-/

The Brown M&Ms story is implausible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45868177)

I know it's fun, but it just doesn't make sense.

All the work would be subcontracted, the only thing the absence of brown M&Ms would indicate is whether the there are brown M&Ms. Anything else can and could be independently fouled up. Even if you think the penalty means they'll double check the M&Ms, that only means they'd double check the M&Ms. Hence is it a poor indicator.

And the idea of the entire show being forfeit is just ridiculous. Neither side wants the show to be forfeit. If they thought not having a show was a decent outcome, they wouldn't have bothered to try to have one in the first place.

It's a fun story, but don't take it too seriously.

Re:The Brown M&Ms story is implausible. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45868483)

Not having a show is better than killing your fans, which is a likely outcome if the stage collapses because the venue coordinators didn't read the technical section of the contract specifying weight tolerances, right there next to the 'no brown M&Ms or no show' clause...

Re: Reading and comprehension skills (1)

Somebody Is Using My (985418) | about 8 months ago | (#45868299)

And for those of you who are really interested, you can read where it is mentioned in the the actual backstage rider here [thesmokinggun.com] .

The bit about the M&Ms is on page 9.

Actually, a rather fun site. Apparently Dick Cheney's contract [thesmokinggun.com] required that his hotel room have the TV set to Fox News. And Iggy Pop's [thesmokinggun.com] contract is pure rock'n'roll.

Anyway, the point of it all is that it is important to read the whole contract and then follow up with the agreed upon conditions. It's as true for venues signing Van Halen as it is for businesses running 57.5 foot wide boring machines.

Re: Reading and comprehension skills (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45868773)

For those that don't want to RTFR (read the fucking reference) some band use to put at the beginning of the contract that they wanted M&Ms in their room and then at the end of the contract put all the brown M&Ms must be picked out. If they arrived and saw the brown M&Ms they knew the contract was not read and would check to see what else was forgotten and/or cancel the show since the contract was not followed.

He had to beat them to death with their own shoes.... but that's another story, altogether.

Re:Reading and comprehension skills (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866937)

How the hell is this modded up as informative? Should be modded fucking stupid and irrelevant to the discussion.

Re:Reading and comprehension skills (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | about 8 months ago | (#45867073)

How the hell is this modded up as informative? Should be modded fucking stupid and irrelevant to the discussion.

Just a guess, but I suspect everyone else understands why a "canary" clause (*) inserted to verify that people were paying attention to important technical details *might* be relevant to a case where the contractors had failed to pay attention to the technical information supplied to them.

(*) Which was the purpose of the "No Brown M&Ms" clause. You did understand that... right? Or were you still labouring under the assumption that it was a gratuitous rider requirement despite the fact I explained it wasn't and linked to the article?!

Re:Reading and comprehension skills (1)

denzacar (181829) | about 8 months ago | (#45867837)

And if anyone doesn't get the reference (or even more so if you think you do, but don't get what the archetypal ludicrously demanding rock band rider has to do with tunnel boring), read the linked article.

Iggy Pop has taken that to a whole new level. [thesmokinggun.com]

underground stuff is still really poorly mapped (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about 8 months ago | (#45865915)

Even recent stuff tends not to be recorded in a nice way, like a computerized 3d model that can be used to keep all the data in one place and plan excavations. Instead it's often just a list of things in freeform text, like "well site at [lat,long], dug 2002, depth 115 ft". And older stuff is even less well documented; nobody really has an accurate map of what's under NYC.

Re:underground stuff is still really poorly mapped (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866159)

RTFS: This is Seattle, NOT NYC.

Re:underground stuff is still really poorly mapped (1)

tepples (727027) | about 8 months ago | (#45866527)

Then please let me rephrase: "And older stuff is even less well documented; if nobody really has an accurate map of what's under New York City, then how can we expect anyone to have an accurate map of what's under Seattle?"

Re:underground stuff is still really poorly mapped (4, Interesting)

Mashiki (184564) | about 8 months ago | (#45866225)

You're spot on with that, look around quickly and you'll find dozens if not hundreds of stories about fiber, water, sewer, and NG being cut because *insert company* laid it out differently than what was in the plans, then refused to update said plans, or even come out and mark. In my own backyard(southern ontario) we still run into things like wood sewer pipes, in use but unmarked. Plank roads with the cast belting retrofit anywhere between 8" to 4' under the road surface, and early 1930's cast iron water and sewer pipes that are still in use, but not documented.

Re:underground stuff is still really poorly mapped (4, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | about 8 months ago | (#45866531)

We intentionally don't update plans, or even have plans to begin with, because terrorists will use the plans to, well, plan how to attack us.

The only solution to plan less, and destroy all existing plans.

Re:underground stuff is still really poorly mapped (3, Funny)

LoRdTAW (99712) | about 8 months ago | (#45866553)

So far it appears to be working.

Even worse than NY: Germany (1)

gentryx (759438) | about 8 months ago | (#45866549)

With some cities existing for >1000 years and having been dug over in WW2, there is often no knowing of what to expect when digging through the underground. Recently a builder operating a digger was killed [n-tv.de] by a WW2 era dud. Experts estimate that there are still 100k duds lying around and each year about 5k are being found.

Re:Even worse than NY: Germany (1)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 8 months ago | (#45867725)

Seems to me that those are dud duds.

Re:underground stuff is still really poorly mapped (5, Funny)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#45866975)

That's why you should always carry a foot of fiber in your pocket.

If you're ever stranded in the middle of nowhere, just bury the fiber. When the backhoe shows up to break it, hitch a lift.

Re:underground stuff is still really poorly mapped (2)

volmtech (769154) | about 8 months ago | (#45868393)

I bought some farm land that had a major electrical transmission line run across it. We just farmed between the poles. While cleaning out a drainage ditch, with my backhoe, I noticed a length of (not cable, thank God) red marking tape that read "Warning! Fiber". Apparently there was a cable burred underground along the path of the power lines. It must have been quite deep because I had dug a deep ditch on the other side of the field and hadn't hit it. There were no warning signs anywhere indicating cable buried.

Re:underground stuff is still really poorly mapped (4, Interesting)

pspahn (1175617) | about 8 months ago | (#45867011)

Part of my line of work involves calling in "locates" prior to digging. This is generally done on behalf of our customer. Most of the time, people are happy and welcome the security of knowing where things are in the ground behind their house. On occasion, there's the idiot individual that refuses based on some kind of principle or that a locate was already done five years ago. In those cases, we tell them we can either leave the trees in their yard for them, the install costs forfeited, and they can dig the holes and plant the trees themselves, or they can have the locate done so none of the crew guys have to worry about smacking a natural gas line with a skid steer.

Maps and plans are useless. The only way to know what is in your dirt is to have a locate done and most municipalities will/should do this at no cost to the home owner. This also gives you indemnification in the event that you do end up hitting something that needs repair (so long as you dig within the time frame allowed).

Re:underground stuff is still really poorly mapped (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45868629)

As someone that does the locates. Typically the major utilities are covered by a one call system (digsafe) you make one call to digsafe, and digsafe notifies all the utilities in the area. ie gas, water, phone, tv, electric, major pipelines.

Propane is the one that I've run into that doesn't get covered by digsafe. You can hire private utility locators for a cost.

The utilities own the pipes in the ground for the most part, its their infrastructure, they send people out to locate it. Its the law. In Mass National grid electric does not own the secondary power lines (transformer to house) So we do not mark that out, sprinkler lines private electric like pool equipment/ lamp posts also not covered.

Cities usually own the water from main to the curb shut off and won't mark past it.

Re:underground stuff is still really poorly mapped (5, Interesting)

Solandri (704621) | about 8 months ago | (#45867221)

That happened at the hotel I used to work at. One of the tour buses entering hit and knocked over a gate, which hit an electric utility pole. I never got the next part of the story straight, and probably nobody knows for sure. But the underground piling holding the gate bent and burst an unmarked gas line as it shifted underground, and somehow a spark from it or the power pole lit the gas.

The ensuing fire required 2 fire trucks, 4 Gas Company trucks, and one Edison truck on-site as they tried to figure out what to do. The hotel was over 100 years old and the break was before the meter so in a section of pipe that was the Gas Company's responsibility. They couldn't find any records of where they had originally installed the gas lines, so they couldn't simply go upstream and turn a valve to shut off the gas, at least not without shutting off gas to the entire neighborhood. They had to bring in special equipment to trace the pipe underground several hundred feet upstream to the main pipe under the road. They determined no shutoff valve had been installed when the line was first constructed. So they picked a good spot between the fire and the road, dug down (with shovels so as not to cause another break), and spliced in a new shutoff valve. The fire burned for over 2 days while they did all this. The gate was ruined. The power pole was a write-off and Edison had to install a new one. I spoke with the Gas Company guy in charge of the whole thing and he said this was the biggest incident he'd ever been involved in in his 30 year career, and it was the main topic of discussion for several days among all the Gas Company branches in the entire Southwest U.S. We were just fortunate the fire was in a remote location and didn't spread.

Always document your work.

Re:underground stuff is still really poorly mapped (1, Troll)

cold fjord (826450) | about 8 months ago | (#45866299)

Even recent stuff tends not to be recorded in a nice way, like a computerized 3d model that can be used to keep all the data in one place and plan excavations.

This incident is more than a little surprising given the proliferation of geospatial information systems, which Seattle has [seattle.gov] . Of course it doesn't matter if the data exists if you don't use it.

What is Geospatial Information? [linz.govt.nz]

Geospatial information is information describing the location and names of features beneath, on or above the earth's surface. At its simplest this can mean the basic topographical information found on a map, but also includes different location-related datasets combined into complex layers that show information such as land use and population density.

Geospatial information supports a wide range of business, government and community activities, and the use and re-use of this information has significant productivity-related benefits.

The terms "geospatial information", "spatial information" and "location-based information" are often used interchangeably.

Re:underground stuff is still really poorly mapped (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866503)

Yeah and information from things 10 years ago that show up on those, are rough estimates at best.

wasn't a month ago I was locating gas lines that didn't exist on paper. A few weeks ago working at a site where a water line broke which was feeding from one street under a persons garage(newer construction), through another street to three different homes.

It was put in 50 years ago and the water department had to comb through archives to find the paper explaining what the original crew had done. No one knew about it till it stopped working.

This is in suburb where most shit is overhead, can't imagine the crap that is under the ground in a city.

Oh and fiber, in a couple years there are going to be a lot of hit fiber lines as there are no prints on it for MA. new stuff going in, bury and forget, maybe put in tracer line. But when grass covers up the new handholes good luck finding it. Or even getting verizon to run a tracer when a major fiber line is in the area.

Was expecting an alien spacecraft... (5, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 8 months ago | (#45865931)

But it turns out that the boring machine found a boring object! (Why am I not surprised?)

"Presume" there's no pipe? (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 8 months ago | (#45865945)

From TFA:

Chris Dixon, project director for contractor group Seattle Tunnel Partners, said the builders presumed there would be no pipe in the way, because casings are customarily removed after use.

When I dig in hole in my backyard, I may presume there's nothing in the ground. That's because if I hit a snag, my cost will be the price of the shovel.

But for a $1.44B hole in the ground, I'd want to make damn sure every inch I dig through presents abolutely no risk whatsoever. And since that's taxpayer's money, if I was Seattle resident, I'd sure as hell want to know who the fuck "presumed" stuff on my money...

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (5, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | about 8 months ago | (#45865987)

But for a $1.44B hole in the ground, I'd want to make damn sure every inch I dig through presents abolutely no risk whatsoever.

And how do you suppose they are to do that? The only real way to see exactly what is underground is to dig a hole. Sonar only gets you so far, records are sketchy and incomplete, at the end of the day the only way to be 100% sure there's nothing in the way of digging a hole is to dig the damn hole.

This was a fuckup, sure, but it's on the scale of "we hit something we knew we were going to hit (although not exactly where), we removed it when we hit it, but it turns out it fucked up the drill head when we tried to drill through it." I wouldn't bet on this causing the whole billion-dollar project to fail - it's most likely to be a couple hundred grand, maybe a few million in repairs. And that's coming out of the contractor's profits, not from the state, most likely.

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (3, Interesting)

mc6809e (214243) | about 8 months ago | (#45866055)

This was a fuckup, sure, but it's on the scale of "we hit something we knew we were going to hit (although not exactly where), we removed it when we hit it, but it turns out it fucked up the drill head when we tried to drill through it." I wouldn't bet on this causing the whole billion-dollar project to fail - it's most likely to be a couple hundred grand, maybe a few million in repairs.

The problem could be serious in terms of time and effort, though. The machine is meant to only go forward -- there is no reverse. Repairing the bits on the face of the machine will require excavating a large void in front of the machine just to create room for the repair work itself. That probably means old and slow classic mining techniques will need to be used.

Bits are replaceable; it's the rest of the face... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866349)

The cutting bits are designed to be replaced; it's a PITA process but it's very much a normal operating procedure. (They're bolted in from the back; the top picture on the tunnel boring machine [wikipedia.org] wikipedia page shows a machine with all the bits removed.)

The problem is if there has been damage to the rest of the face, the support structure around the bits. This is not accessible while the machine is in operation, particularly for an earth pressure balance machine like they're using [djcoregon.com] . (Required when there's lots of groundwater or a need to minimize surface disturbance, such as in an urban area.)

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866361)

I'd be rather surprised if there wasn't limited reverse (usually about 3-4'), as that's how you get enough working space in front of the head to replace worn cutting discs.

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (2)

ZosX (517789) | about 8 months ago | (#45867105)

Did you even read the grandparent? The cutters can be replaced from inside the machine. If there is damage to the face, they may find it impossible to replace the cutters. The area where the cutter is located is under high pressure and inundated with water. Yeah, they can back it up, but that still leaves the pressure and water to deal with.

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (2)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 8 months ago | (#45866079)

And how do you suppose they are to do that?

In this case, it's just a matter of making a phone call. As in "Hello, Alaskan Way Viaduct project officials? This is STP. The DOT says you bore a hole in the ground in 2002. We're just calling to make sure you guys removed the pipe."

One quick phone call. Just like that...

I'm not saying each and every danger can be predicted in a project like that, but in this case, the hazard was known and could have been fully assessed.

Also, while all potential problems can't be avoided, at $1.44Bn, they should at least try their best to minimize them.

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (5, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | about 8 months ago | (#45866215)

Yeah, that'll probably work something like this...

Welcome to Alaskan Way Viaduct customer support. Your call is important to us. We are receiving a higher than expected level of calls at the moment and thank you for your patience. You're approximate waiting time will be 30 minutes.

4 hours later
Pleased to be welcome to Alaskan Way Viaduct customer support, how may I help you?

"Hello, Alaskan Way Viaduct project officials? This is STP. The DOT says you bore a hole in the ground in 2002. We're just calling to make sure you guys removed the pipe."
Pleased to be sorry, sir, I do not know what you mean about DOT.

15 minute explanation later...

Pleased to be putting you through to my manager

2 hours later

This is Alaskan Way Viaduct level 2 support, how may I help?

"Hello, Alaskan Way Viaduct project officials? This is STP. The DOT says you bore a hole in the ground in 2002. We're just calling to make sure you guys removed the pipe."

The documentation states that the pipe has been removed sir.

+6 (1)

stigmato (843667) | about 8 months ago | (#45867819)

This needs to be +6 painfully hilarious

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (0)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 8 months ago | (#45866237)

"Hello, uh, ummm, Alaska Way, um, wow, I mean Seattle Viaduct, no, woowowowowo, Alaska Way Viaduct project, can I help you?"
"This is STP, the DOT says you bored a hole in the ground in 2002 We're just calling to make sure you removed the pipe."
"Pipe? Wowoww. Yeah, I've got the pipe right here."
"Did you remove it from the the path of the borer."
"Umm, wowowow, sure! Right, we did"
"OK, thanks."
"No problemo, dude"

-- Click --

"Hey, didn't Mary give you that pipe last week."

Has anybody been in Seattle recently? You can get a contact high just walking around Pike's Place (not far from the Viaduct project).

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 8 months ago | (#45866613)

And how do you suppose they are to do that?

In this case, it's just a matter of making a phone call. As in "Hello, Alaskan Way Viaduct project officials? This is STP. The DOT says you bore a hole in the ground in 2002. We're just calling to make sure you guys removed the pipe."

One quick phone call. Just like that...

I'm not saying each and every danger can be predicted in a project like that, but in this case, the hazard was known and could have been fully assessed.

Also, while all potential problems can't be avoided, at $1.44Bn, they should at least try their best to minimize them.

You're assuming that they have the 10 year old documentation and that it's accurate.

I don't know about underground hazard documentation, but anyone that's every looked at as-builts for any sizeable building can tell you that the as-builts have only a loose connection to reality. The contract may have said that they pulled the casing out of the ground, but maybe it broke off 20 feet below the surface and they said "Good enough!" and just left the rest there.

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (2)

jasnw (1913892) | about 8 months ago | (#45866271)

I don't see this coming out of the contractor's fee. From local news reporting (I live in Seattle) this looks to me like the state is the up-gefucking party here, and if I were the state I'd be looking to avoid being sued by the contractor for providing misleading/incomplete information during the bid process. I expect that total cost of this little mishap will be well into the $1M+ range, and it'll come out of contingency money. Since we're still early in the dig process and haven't even gotten to the hard parts (digging under large buildings, for example) it's not good to be eating big chunks out of the contingency money at this point.

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 8 months ago | (#45867253)

And how do you suppose they are to do that?

Ground penetrating radar?

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45868769)

GPR doesn't work well in this situation. What you would want is the radar to be on the face of the boring machine (hmm, something to think about for the next gen machine).. but GPR doesn't create a nice image from one place. typically, one drags or moves the antenna along a path, and you get a plot along the path (sort of like a depth finding sonar, not one of those fancy side scan imaging units).

I don't know how fast the boring machine goes.. The radar penetration is probably in the "around 10 ft" range (given the high water content). So you spin the cutting head around and scan everything, then spend a day analyzing the scans, while a few dozen highly paid tunnel dogs stand around waiting for you to conjure up some idea of what's in the murky image, and whether you should dig.

GPR is *great* at doing things like finding rebar or pipes in concrete, or even finding buried drums of toxic waste buried under a parking lot, or maybe even finding Richard III's grave. You've got plenty of time, there's a nice flat surface to run the antenna over repeatedly.

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866013)

It was also unusually deep. And in your backyard, if you hit a gas pipe or a water pipe under prssure, it's gong to cost a lot more than just your shovel.

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866039)

Private industry cares about nothing except profits. If you hit a project ending snag, you declare bankruptcy and start a new corporation. This is exactly why projects like this should be done exclusively by government. Game, set, and match to the leftists.

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866099)

Private industry cares about nothing except profits. If you hit a project ending snag, you declare bankruptcy and start a new corporation. This is exactly why projects like this should be done exclusively by government. Game, set, and match to the leftists.

So when you get a problem, the government can declare bankruptcy and you can get a new government?

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 8 months ago | (#45866217)

Naw, you just raise taxes.

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866175)

Or you reform your bankruptcy laws so they can't. Which the left has been arguing against doing.

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866559)

What good is that? If you're out of money, you're out of money, and it's pretty obvious to your employees, vendors and contractors. Do you thing that they are going to agree to work for you when they know that you won't be able to pay them, no matter what promises are made?

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45867877)

The left probably sees how good it works for government, so they're eager to apply the same policies to business. Ought to be a smashing success.

What's the federal deficit up to lately?

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (3, Informative)

sjames (1099) | about 8 months ago | (#45867069)

The "reforms" have been primarily to keep individuals from discharging debt while still allowing corporations to do so. That's why the left opposed it.

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 8 months ago | (#45866745)

But this wasn't private industry. The pipe was put in for the state. Private industry is legally responsible to mark their underground facilities. Public utilities just say 'Fuck it. So sue us.'

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | about 8 months ago | (#45866053)

What, you've never seen any of those "Call Before You Dig" signs that the utilities companies pepper all over the place? The cost can be a hell of a lot higher than the price of a shovel if you're in a remotely suburban area.

Re:"Presume" there's no pipe? (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about 8 months ago | (#45866597)

From TFA:

Chris Dixon, project director for contractor group Seattle Tunnel Partners, said the builders presumed there would be no pipe in the way, because casings are customarily removed after use.

When I dig in hole in my backyard, I may presume there's nothing in the ground. That's because if I hit a snag, my cost will be the price of the shovel.

But for a $1.44B hole in the ground, I'd want to make damn sure every inch I dig through presents abolutely no risk whatsoever. And since that's taxpayer's money, if I was Seattle resident, I'd sure as hell want to know who the fuck "presumed" stuff on my money...

Actually, if you're digging in your back yard with any sort of power tools, you should still call your local utility locating service first to make sure there are no gas lines or other infrastructure buried in your back yard.

You're probably safe digging with hand tools (there's usually a marker tape or cable above more recent pipes), but if you're using something like a pickaxe or hammering a rod into the ground, you really ought to check first or you may find yourself on the hook for expensive utility repairs if you don't end up blowing up you and your house first.

zetatalk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866027)

+1 ... Big Bertha’s blockage did indeed hit the press, but the media chose to emphasize nonsensical speculation rather than serious discussion. Of course a boring machine like Bertha would not be stymied by a wooden boat, or a rock of any size, or pig iron from a ship’s boiler. Even mankind’s hardened metals, in use today, would eventually melt from the continuous friction, and give way. The decision to withhold this from the news was made at a high level, and in keeping with the ongoing cover-up over the alien presence. Some other excuse will be proffered, involving a failure in Bertha’s bore head, while the humming box encountered is quietly extracted or simply disappears. This attempt to gain traction on disclosure, enlightening mankind, failed, once again, due to the grip the cover-up over the alien presence has in the US.

http://www.zetatalk.com/ning/04ja2014.htm

Re: zetatalk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866117)

I just rise reading some shit off this site. Gave me a headache. Do you actually read this crap? I think some sort of brain damage must be required for membership.

Re: zetatalk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866233)

yes

Re:zetatalk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866445)

Even mankind’s hardened metals, in use today, would eventually melt from the continuous friction, and give way.

You mean like the metal used for the bits on the boring machine? Ever watch an inexperienced person try to drill a work hardened metal too slowly? Ever seen a blade meant for cutting only wood hit a nail? Even high quality bits will quickly dull if not used properly or not used for the material they were designed for, and you can end up with the bit being the week point that will give way from continued attempts. Usually even the least experienced idiot can figure out it won't work after their blade shatters, or seeing part of their drill bit galled into the bottom of a half drilled hole.

Calling X'zibit (2)

Megane (129182) | about 8 months ago | (#45866047)

Yo dawg, we heard you were digging a pipe, so we put a pipe in your pipe so you can tunnel while you tunnel.

metal detector (1)

drwho (4190) | about 8 months ago | (#45866061)

You'd think someone would have a metal detector out there, to help find such things. Yeah, I know, too obvious in hindsight from an armchair.

Re:metal detector (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866281)

um, no.

I'll let you think about it for a while.

Re:metal detector (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | about 8 months ago | (#45866731)

Think about how metal detectors work (inductance detection) and the depth of the tunnel, compared to the amount of metal in the surrounding city at a shallower depth, and combined with the materials the boring machine is made of...

They must have hired IT Managers to plan this job (-1, Offtopic)

marcgvky (949079) | about 8 months ago | (#45866071)

You see, IT Managers don't plan anything and, when cautioned by the Project Manager to spend additional funds to plan the path and remove obstacles BEFORE starting work, they always opt to not spend that money; let's just start the work. Resulting in lost productivity, low morale, and cost-doubling rework. LOL Good job construction morons, welcome to the world of elite IT Management theory.

Re:They must have hired IT Managers to plan this j (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 8 months ago | (#45866577)

Absolutely true. Get the warnings in writing to CYA.

A Boring Answer (2)

thomasoa (759290) | about 8 months ago | (#45866087)

Well, that was a boring boring answer.

Seattle Tunnel Partners statement (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866161)

However, Chris Dixon, project director for contractor group Seattle Tunnel Partners, said the builders presumed there would be no pipe in the way, because casings are customarily removed after use; adding, "ceci n'est pas une pipe."

Only a pipe? (1)

rwyoder (759998) | about 8 months ago | (#45866269)

Re:Only a pipe? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 8 months ago | (#45867531)

I was going for a Thrint in stasis.

Re:Only a pipe? (1)

dwywit (1109409) | about 8 months ago | (#45867701)

Fine, just don't press any buttons.

Dang! (1)

Alomex (148003) | about 8 months ago | (#45866327)

I was sure it was a buried UFO, after all it is the most likely explanation.

Alien pipe? (2)

Chemisor (97276) | about 8 months ago | (#45866353)

Yes, but was it an alien 8" pipe?

Re:Alien pipe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866493)

yes it was. http://www.zetatalk.com/ning/04ja2014.htm

Re:Alien pipe? (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | about 8 months ago | (#45866993)

I didn't read the summary or the article, but I'm pretty sure that it explicitly stated that yes it is in fact an alien pipe.

Re:Alien pipe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45867883)

My pipe is a lot bigger than 8"! Prepare your women for probing.

Re:Alien pipe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45868195)

Connected to an alien organ.

seriously, do i look like (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45866883)

IGAFF?

Aliens (1)

ZosX (517789) | about 8 months ago | (#45867109)

I still think it was aliens. They put the pipe there!

I know some of you have seen Quatermas and the Pit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45867573)

In Pasadena, California, circa 1990, they started to dig a hole for a parking structure with and movie theater combo. This was the first move to to revitalise and old part of town that was a business ghetto. As they dug down next to a 100 year or sold old 5 or 8 story brick building, the building started to show some cracks. The contractor assumed the brick building had a certain type of underground structure. But maybe not. Option one: step: spend about 2 million to excavate and see what was under the brick building. Then decide on that basis what to do. Option 2: stop digging, build the parking structure but the no the movie theater. That is what they did. At the time is was considered an economic disaster. Since then, Old Town(e) Pasadena has become a hot spot. Parking lot is on the NE lot at Green and Fair Oaks.

But someone who was involved in the planning had to know that that was possible and was betting that once dig got started it would have been too expensive and a bigger loss stop and cover the hole.

Correction: Not Separate Project (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45867195)

The tunnel that Bertha is currently digging is in fact the culmination of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project. In other words, Bertha was stuck on something from earlier in its own project.

All we need is one more review panel (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 8 months ago | (#45867469)

Because the last 14 committees weren't enough.

I got your 8 inch pipe right here! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45867555)

Always love a good pipe joke.

An 8 inch pipe stops a 57 foot diameter digger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45867557)

It seems strange that a relatively tiny pipe is all it takes to stop this behemoth of an excavator.

Re: An 8 inch pipe stops a 57 foot diameter digger (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45867807)

Like a monkey wrench?
Sometimes that is all is takes.

Just the usual government fuckup (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45867751)

Who cares though, they can just raise taxes to pay for their own incompetence right? Fucking useless government. how many fuckups like this will it take?

Ron Paul 2016

Lowest Bidder Wins Again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45867829)

Some day we'll learn in this country... but not before we damn near destroy ourselves first.

Weak-ass Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#45867847)

What I don't get is that this is a huge machine designed to cut through rocks and it's being made into a little bitch by a pipe? What's this pipe made from, the stuff they use to make black boxes on airplanes?

Correction/confusing summary (4, Interesting)

ChrisMounce (1096567) | about 8 months ago | (#45868127)

In 2002, researchers for another project — the replacement of the Alaskan Way viaduct — drilled down into the ground to take water samples.

The tunnel that Bertha's digging isn't another project — the whole reason for digging the tunnel is to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. See here [wa.gov] .

The wells were drilled in 2002 to study the ground after the 2001 Nisqually quake. But that's a related project, because the Nisqually quake is the reason why we got to thinking about a replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Am I making sense? I hope I'm making sense. At any rate, the story summary needs updating.

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