Saturday, June 19, 2010
Even on the most idyllic sunny day on the San Mateo County coast, it's chilly, dark, dusty, muddy and noisy deep inside San Pedro Mountain, where construction crews are digging twin tunnels to carry traffic around Devil's Slide.
No one will be happier than residents of the coastal communities who depend on that scenic but unstable stretch of Highway 1.
The Devil's Slide tunnel will be California's first highway tunnel built since 1964, when the third bore of the East Bay's Caldecott Tunnel opened. Tunneling is dirty and dangerous work, and progress is slow. Workers wear not only the usual hardhats, reflective vests and other construction safety gear, they also carry flashlights or headlamps, respirators and emergency "self rescue kits" that provide oxygen in the event of an accident like a gas leak, collapse, fire or power failure.