A treacherous stretch of highway in San Mateo County that was once so menacing it bore the name Devil’s Slide, will reopen next week - minus the cars.
The 1.3 mile stretch of road will be reborn as a cliff-side park and trail, almost a year after it was bypassed by a pair of twin traffic tunnels between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay.
“It’s going to be a remarkable, majestic addition to our county park system,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley.
The road was long notorious for car accidents, tumbling boulders and washouts which, on several occasions, shut down the vital coastal artery for months.
Last March Caltrans opened a pair of long-awaited state-of-the-art traffic tunnels, replacing the crumbling highway for good.
The old road boasts sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, San Mateo coastline and nesting areas for sea birds. It will become a destination for hikers and bicyclists and eventually link-up to 11 miles of coastal trails.
“Now that you’re walking it, it’s extremely safe,” Horsley said. “It has majestic views of the ocean - you can hear the waves crashing against the mountain.”
The county added faux-rock walls, protective railing and painted signage onto the road surface to avoid cluttering the area with signposts.
Workers also pried-up the old reflective road bumps. A pair of small parking lots were added at either end of the park. But county officials expect the park’s popularity to overwhelm the meager offer of parking.
“We understand that’s going to be a bit of problem,” said Horsley, who encouraged visitors to car pool, bike or take a shuttle to the trail.
The new park, with its soaring vistas should appease some locals who, despite all the decades of traffic woes, still miss the old highway.
“The tunnel went up, and now we’re lucky we get to enjoy it for walking,” said area native Kenny Jones. “Which we never got to do before because everyone was driving it.”
The metal gates that currently guard the ends of the trail will fling open for a grand opening party next Thursday at 1 p.m. as the once devilish roadway shows off its heavenly side.