For the first time in over a week, workers pouring the concrete roadway for the Devil’s Slide Tunnel Project had daylight to work by. The toiling road crews emerged from the glow of artificial light as the concrete road reached the end of the tunnel, marking a major milestone for the 425 million dollar project.
“This is the last of the major milestones of this project that is really visible,” said Bob Haus of Caltrans. “I mean this is what people are going to be driving on.”
It took just over two weeks for crews to pour the concrete bed in the North and South tunnels. Once open, they’ll circumnavigate the dangerous stretch of Highway 1 along the eroding cliffs between Pacifica and Montara. The massive tunnel project is scheduled to open in late December, although Caltrans now believes it could open ahead of schedule.
“If there are any ways that we can compress some tasks and get things done earlier, we’ll definitely do that,” said Haus.
A dwindling number of concrete delivery trucks were cued up, as the roadway work reached its finale at mouth of the tunnel. Nearby, painters added fine detail to the tunnels’ faux rock walls, designed to blend into the nearby hills. With the roadways done, the work will shift to installing electrical systems, water lines, and the massive jet fans that will help ventilate the 4200 foot tunnels.
“There’s still a lot of work to do,” said Haus, offering a reality check.
Over the decades, Devil’s Slide has lived up to its dark and ominous name. It’s frequently plagued by traffic accidents, cars careening off cliffs, and weather erosion that has closed the two-lane coastal artery for months.
“The very first Maverick’s competition, there was a major accident on the slide and you’re talking about thousands of people trying to get back here,” recollected Micky Howard of Pacifica. Although some residents in nearby Half Moon Bay initially feared the finished tunnel project would draw more traffic and congestion to the area, Howard believes it will only help the area.
“If it does bring more people, then wouldn’t that be a benefit to the economy here in Pacifica and Half Moon Bay?” Howard asked.
Once the tunnels are done, and the traffic flowing through them, San Mateo County will begin work on the leftover stretch of Highway one. The winding, jagged road will eventually be converted to bike paths and hiking trails with vast and unyielding views of the Pacific Ocean. When that happens, Devil’s Slide could become one of the most heavenly destinations around.