SAN FRANCISCO -- A ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday morning will celebrate completion of the state's first highway tunnels in nearly 50 years -- and commuters should be gliding through the engineering wonder on the San Mateo County coast early Tuesday.
The $439-million dual tunnels at Devil's Slide between Pacifica and Montara were funded entirely by the federal government and came after decades of community debate.
A citizens movement successfully defeated an earlier Caltrans proposal to build a four-lane freeway bypass that crtitics said would have opened the coast to new development. Instead, constuction of the two 4,200 foot-long tunnels was approved as a solution to the landslides that have intermittently closed the scenic stretch of Highway 1 since its construction in 1937.
One closure, in 1995, lasted 158 days and cost almost $3 million to repair, according to Caltrans. The closures forced commuters to detour along Highway 92 in order to reach the coast and strangled local business.