Let the Boring Begin

Monday, Aug 9, 2010  |  Updated 5:15 PM PDT
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Let the Boring Begin

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Public officials switched on a 50-foot long, 130-ton tunnel-boring  machine Monday and made the first grinding cuts into a retaining wall that  will eventually become the fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel, project  spokesman Jeff Weiss said today.

      During a commencement of drilling event held on the east side of  the tunnel, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez and  Caltrans Director Cindy McKim were the first to climb up a ladder and switch  on the giant machine, known as a road header.
     
State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, state Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner,  Metropolitan Transportation Commission Commissioner Amy Worth, Contra Costa  Transportation Authority Chair Robert Taylor and Oakland City Councilman  Larry Reid also attended the event, Weiss said.
     
Crews plan to grind about two-thirds of the way through the  mountain from the east side and then, early this fall, they will bring in two  smaller boring machines and begin drilling through the mountain from the west  side as well. 
     
Because the rock is relatively soft, crews will have to stop about  every three feet to build support, Weiss said. They expect to be able to  drill only about 10 feet a day.
     
The four-year, $420 million project will alleviate traffic  congestion on state Highway 24 between Oakland and Contra Costa County and  create more than 5,000 construction jobs. The project is expected to be  complete in late 2013 or early 2014.
     
Nearly half the project, $197.5 million of it, is being funded by  money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
 

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