Reverse commuters relieved Caldecott's 4th bore is opening

There are many reverse commuters that will be very happy to see the opening of the Caldecott Tunnel's 4th bore.
November 15, 2013 7:35:25 PM PST
The 4th bore of the Caldecott Tunnel was dedicated on Friday. Shortly after the ribbon-cutting ceremony, officials announced it would open to traffic on Saturday morning. The tunnel cost four years to complete and cost $417 million. It was finished ahead of schedule and under budget, paid for by sales tax dollars and federal funds. When it opens commuters will finally have two tunnels going in each direction and that should put an end to the long backups that happen daily in the reverse commute direction when just one tunnel was available.

The tunnel passed all the critical tests on Friday to ensure it will open this weekend. ABC7 News has been following the progress over the past four years.

Passing cars have been honking and cheering as they go by, clearly excited by the prospect of this tunnel opening very soon. Caltrans estimates that this new bore will save individual commuters at least 12 minutes of idling per day. That should end after Saturday when four lanes will be permanently dedicated in each direction.

Caltrans estimates that the new bore will save individual commuters at least 12 minutes of idling per day, especially those who go in the reverse direction.

"I've been driving this road since 1980," said Dr. Larry Diller, a reverse commuter.

For more than three decades, East Bay pediatrician Diller has done everything he can to avoid the long backups at the Caldecott Tunnel by using the side roads.

"It was my secret route. I would tell certain patients coming from San Francisco or from this side of the tunnel about it, but I wouldn't tell anybody else," said Diller.

Diller lives in Piedmont and commutes to his office in Walnut Creek daily. He's a reverse commuter -- one who is drives the off-peak direction, with just two lanes, going his way morning and night. He told us he has commuted to Walnut Creek 15,800 times over 33 years.

Finally, like so many reverse commuters, Diller is about to get some big relief once the new 4th bore of the Caldecott opens. He and tens of thousands of others can abandon the daily quest for shortcuts.

"The primary purpose of the Caldecott 4th Bore is to relieve traffic congestion in the off-peak direction," said Ivy Morrison from Caltrans.

That's not to say that Diller doesn't appreciate all he's learned over the years. He even took a look at a study published in the New York Times magazine about the psychology of commuting, with a particular focus on the Caldecott.

"As a paradigmatic question: Are you an early merger when the sign says merge right, or are you a left-laner, like I was? And the question is what's the right thing to do? As it turns out, mathematically, it makes sense to use all the available lanes up to the mouth of the tunnel," said Diller. "The wonderful thing about the 4th bore is I won't have to play these games anymore. I can just get right on 13 and go right to the tunnel, I hope."