Saturday, June 19, 2010

Major progress on Devil's Slide tunnel

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.

But despite the gloomy atmosphere, workers are making major progress on the $325 million tunnel project, which includes a pair of arched bridges and an operations center. The buildings and the bridges are finished, and the tunnel diggers are expected to bust through the north end of the mountain by this fall. A little more than a year later, the finished tunnel should open to traffic.

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.

Posted by Steve Sinai

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