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Construction on Devil's Slide to begin

September 17, 2007|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Construction is scheduled to begin today on a $322-million tunnel-and-bridge project that will replace a scenic but earthquake- and landslide-prone stretch of Pacific Coast Highway dubbed "Devil's Slide."

Geologists, engineers and construction workers already have collected explosives, a 120-ton drill, back hoes, grinders, conveyor belts and dump trucks -- just some of the heavy equipment needed to bore through San Pedro Mountain south of Pacifica.

The twin tunnels, which will connect to bridges spanning a nearby canyon, are expected to open to traffic in late 2010.

The current highway has been closed at least nine times because of falling rocks, landslides and other dangers. The roadway is fastened to cliffs along the Pacific with giant bolts and cables.

The Devil's Slide stretch was constructed in 1937 on a former railroad bed. The twin tunnels that replace it will be four-fifths of a mile long, built in rock far from the seaside cliffs.

The Devil's Slide stretch will be turned into a 1.2-mile dirt trail for hikers, bicyclists and tourists.

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