Safety tests conducted on Caldecott Tunnel's fourth bore

OAKLAND, Calif.

Caltrans and several East Bay fire agencies are running through a series of scenarios in the new fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel. They range from an animal loose inside the tunnel, to a major fire or explosion.

Monday's mock scenario simulated a smoky fire in the tunnel. Unlike the old bores, water is readily available for firefighters, people can escape through doorways inside the bore and there are illuminated signs to let everyone know what is going on.

"So, it's a grueling series of final exams that we need to pass. We need to be confident all the systems are operational, not just individually, but in tandem with each another," said Ivy Morrison of Caltrans.

Earlier this month there was a car fire in the 80-year-old first bore. It produced some frightening moments for drivers. If a similar incident happens in the new bore, it should play out much differently thanks to all of the high tech safety systems.

"Cameras, carbon monoxide detection, heat detection, ventilation system and evacuation," said Batt. Chief Darrell Lee of the Moraga-Orinda Fire Department.

"There are safety tunnels in there which are very, very clean. There's high-volume fans that are going in there, that are extremely noisy, but they will do a fantastic job of evacuating all the bad products in the air," said Batt. Chief Jim Howard of the Contra Costa Fire Department..

Caltrans hopes to open the new bore as early as next Monday, but only if it passes all of the safety tests and the weather stays dry.

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