Tunnel Opening of the Day: Bypassing Highway 1's Least Reliable Stretch

Today marks the end of roughly 75 years of on-again-off-again road closures in a suburb of San Francisco.

Image
Jitze Couperus/Flickr

Today marks the end of roughly 75 years of on-again-off-again road closures in a suburb of San Francisco, as an ambitious new tunnel is scheduled to open to traffic late today or Tuesday following an opening ceremony this morning.

The $439 million, federally funded project features a 1,000-foot bridge and two 30-feet by 4,200-feet tunnels that bore through a mountain between Pacifica and Montara, about 15 miles south of San Francisco. The Tom Lantos Tunnels will bypass a section of Highway 1 called Devil's Slide that hugged steep cliffs off the Pacific Ocean. Despite its jaw-dropping views, the section was subject to frequent closures due to rockslides. The road first collapsed only three years after its opening in 1937, and in 1995 it closed for 158 days and cost nearly $3 million to fix. The retired road is slated to become a walking and biking path.

These are also the first highway tunnels to open in the state in almost 50 years, and will be among the longest in the state, second only to Yosemite National Park's Wawona Tunnel.

Top image: Construction of the tunnels in 2010. (Jitze Couperus/Flickr Creative Commons)

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