Devil's Slide bypass on track for December opening

January 31, 2012 8:40:39 PM PST
The long-awaited Devil's Slide bypass on the landslide prone section of Highway 1 between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay is in the midst of a major milestone and on track for a December opening.

The tunnel portals look nearly completed; the southbound roadway is finished, all that's needed is some striping, and in the northbound tunnel, the cement roadway is poured to half-way.

"I like to think of this as the last of the major milestones -- pouring the roadway," Caltrans spokesperson Bob Haus said. "We still have a lot of smaller jobs after this."

Man and machine working together to pour and cure a 9-inch thick layer of concrete.

Each tunnel will have one lane that is 12-feet wide, with a 2-foot shoulder on the left, and an 8-foot shoulder on the right which will double as a bike lane.

The original budget of $272 million ballooned to $439 million, all of it federal emergency relief funds. Caltrans says the price tag went up because of surprises inside the mountain.

"Before we started the unneling we did a lot of core samples to find out what the geological conditions would be inside, we pretty much found those conditions but we found they changed more frequently than expected," Haus said.

The bridge and tunnel should be a reliable route along the coast between Pacifica and Montara, unlike the current Highway 1, which is chronically closed as the cliff crumbles above and beneath it.

"Really it's just for the community, basically to bypass with a different roadway out on the coast, and for vehicles to have a much safer travel through the mountain," Caltrans engineer Tom Gray said.

The tunnels should be open to traffic at the end of this year. Then the old Highway 1 will be open to hikers and bikers.