Caltrans last week celebrated the “punch-through” of the north portal of the Devil’s Slide Tunnel on State Route 1 (SR-1) in San Mateo County. To the cheers of the assembled crowd, crews operating the massive excavator bored through the barrier – a retaining wall on the northern end of the tunnel.
Caltrans broke ground on the tunnels on Sept. 17, 2007. The tunnels will replace a stretch of SR-1 known as “Devil’s Slide” that was subject to numerous rockslides and slip-outs. At times, the highway was subject to long-term road closures due to extensive weather damage.
Financed entirely with federal funding, the $300-million dollar tunnels, each just over 4,000 ft feet long and 30 ft wide, are expected to be completed in early 2012.
“This is a thrilling and historic milestone,” says Caltrans Director Cindy McKim. “We are well on our way to completing these tunnels and ending, once and for all, road closures that have impacted the local communities.”
Once the tunnels are open to traffic, Caltrans will relinquish the property to San Mateo County. Future plans for the property include a new park with bicycle and pedestrian pathways.
The coast between Pacifica and Montara is unsurpassed in scenic beauty. Carved out of the steep cliff sides, Route 1 hugs the coastline for much of the distance between these two towns. One of the longest Devil’s Slide road closures happened in 1995. It lasted 158 days, and cost almost $3 million to repair.