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a n d Vol u m e ı ı 4 N u m b e r 4 9

p e s c a d e r o

| 7 5 c e n t s





north portal



1.4 miles: distance between south portal and north end of bridges


2 22 30 415 1,000








shamrock farms

1,00 0 FE ET




old highway to be converted to pedestrian and bike trail as part of the county parks system. 2014 projected opening.




See inside for March 27 edition of the Half Moon Bay Review.


p e b b l e

Serving the entire San Mateo Coastside since ı898

Regular newspaper inside



Tunnels opened for traffic on the night of monday, march 25.

Rank in California tunnel length (longest is Wawona in Yosemite).

south portal

Height in feet of each tunnel.



Mark Foyer / Review

Politicians, activists and officials joined together in a ceremonial ribbon-cutting at the south portal of the Tom Lantos Tunnels at Devil’s Slide on Monday afternoon. By Sara Hayden


Number of days and nights the road has been closed for extended periods of time since 1941. Grey Whale Cove State Beach

Length in feet of the twin bridges approaching the north portal of the tunnels.


Conservative estimate of the number of days it took to complete the project. This includes tunnels, the operations center and approach roads. That’s more than three times longer than what was originally estimated.



Actual cost of tunnels.

Approximate cost of the Golden Gate Bridge.




Original allocated budget.


$291,000,000 $439,000,000 $35,000,000


Approximate length in feet of tunnels (the northbound bore is slightly longer).

[ sara@hmbreview.com ]


t 11:33 p.m. on Monday, the first cars rolled through the Tom Lantos Tunnels at Devil’s Slide. Two-and-a-half hours later, both bores were open for business. When the commute started later Tuesday morning, a new day had dawned. The opening of the tunnels was welcomed by people like 26-year Montara resident Chuck Lintell. He remembers the days when the slide was out — hard days when his wife had to bike over Montara Mountain to catch an express bus to work in San Francisco. “She did it twice a day. Gets you in shape — once there and once back,” said Lintell. No more. Against the drum roll of the Half Moon Bay and Terra Nova high school bands, the ceremonial ribbon was cut on Monday. A couple hundred dignitaries had been invited for what was truly a historic occasion in San Mateo County. “I think it will make a big difference,” said San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley. “Before, you never knew when you woke up if you’d have to go back up (Highway) 92 or back track … (Now, it’s) safe, reliable transportation.” The project has been decades in the making. The tunnels, the first to be built in California in 50 years, cost $439 million. They were delayed by more than a year and ran $148 million over the initial budget, but will provide a dependable and environmentally sound passage. At the opening ceremonies, younger members of the audience marveled as they stood within the 4,200-foot-long tunnels. Shelby Boyd, a 19-year-old college student, came back home to Montara for her spring break so she could

INSIDE t A win for Measure T supporters. 2AA t The movers and shakers of the tunnel project. 2AA t Follow the long and winding road of Devil’s Slide from early explorers to opening day. 4AA t A short story of Devil’s Slide history. 4AA t A selection of photos from the opening ceremonies. 6AA More can be found on the photo galleries at hmbreview.com. t How the tunnels will impact some of our neighbors to the north. 7AA

witness the historic moment with her younger siblings. “It’s really exciting. It’s awesome to see it,” said Boyd. She recalled that she first showed her support for the tunnels at the age of 2, when she ran around the Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival in a Halloween costume that bore a bumper sticker supporting Measure T, the ballot measure that finally turned the tide toward constructing the tunnels. After invitees had a chance to mill around the tunnels on foot and, in some cases, unicycle, scooter or bicycle, state and local dignitaries commemorated the event by sharing memories and paying their respects to the countless people who made the tunnels possible. U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier recognized four women in particular for their efforts on the Devil’s Slide campaign: U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, Coastsiders April Vargas and Zoe Kersteen-Tucker, and environmental activist Lennie Roberts, describing the tunnel project as the “Golden Gate Bridge of the south” and a “testament of the ballot.” “So, ladies and gentlemen, this is indeed a happy ending to a fairy tale that could have been a sci-fi,” said Speier. r

Stop by Sam’s to celebrate with our special “Tunnel of Love” cocktail.


Width in feet of each tunnel.

half moon bay review


special devil’s slide tunnel opening




wednesday, march 27, 2013


[ measure t ]

A titanic win for tunnel supporters



Passage of Measure T got tunnel project off the ground By Sara Hayden



[ sara@hmbreview.com ]





It was six months of traffic jams in lieu of risking unsafe conditions in 1995. Devil’s Slide was closed. Again. That was the final straw. Devil’s Slide had become a repeat offender bringing tortuous commutes to residents and financial losses to Coastside businesses. “They didn’t necessarily want the tunnels. They didn’t care what it was. They just wanted it fixed,” said Dana Neitzel, the curator of the San Mateo County History Museum in Redwood City. However, there were still strong opinions about which options might be better than others. Caltrans proposed plans for a wide bypass at Martini Creek. Montara Mountain would be carved up. Cars would drive over. And life would go on. Right? Not so fast. “Do you want a blight on the mountain or an environmentally friendly tunnel project instead?” Zoe Kersteen-Tucker urged people to ask themselves. Kersteen-Tucker became the spokeswoman for Measure T — a slide solution that would satisfy both the pro-environment contingent and the pro-development faction. The purpose of the measure was to make tunnels the preferred solution and prohibit any alternatives, including a bypass, by amending the local coastal plan. The tunnels would be environmentally sensitive and comply with Coastal Act limitations that would preserve Highway 1 as a scenic route. They would also protect the quality of life for Coastsiders and visitors, sparing them the noise and pollution that would have resulted from a bypass. Most importantly, it would provide a safe and reli-

Bill Murray / Review

Zoe Kersteen-Tucker, the spokeswoman for Measure T, gave an emotional speech at Monday’s opening ceremony and urged the ‘tunnelistas’ to stand up and be recognized.

able route for travelers. “People had very different reasons for supporting the issue,” remembers Chris Thollaug of Montara, who became one of Measure T’s proponents and represented the Sierra Club. Other proponents included Mitch Reid from Pacifica’s Tunnel Alternative for Highway 1 group, Lennie Roberts from the Save Our Coast Committee, Chuck Kozak from the Committee for the Permanent Repair of Highway 1 and Kersteen-Tucker. However, it took thousands of supporters to pass Measure T. Proponents needed to collect a minimum of 22,019 signatures on petitions to get it on a ballot. Before the age of widespread social media blasts with Facebook and Twitter, many remember it as the first campaign that they participated in that used the Internet, which replaced the old-fashioned phone tree. Campaign advocates took advantage of newly avail-

able website and email technology to help spread the word. Powered by T-shirt sales and bake sales to promote the campaign, they got 34,924 signatures. After Measure T was eligible for an election, voters across San Mateo County needed to approve it. Earlier, Reid received Caltrans documents concerning Devil’s Slide from a public records request. It brought to light a report that dated to 1993, stating that a tunnel would be no more expensive than a bypass. Reid’s sleuthing led to an official tunnel study. A week before the election took place, the results came out stating that the tunnels were feasible. Measure T won in a landslide with 74 percent voter approval. “We saved Montara Mountain, and now we’ll have one of the most beautiful walks on the planet in the form of Highway 1 — forever and ever!” said Kersteen-Tucker. r

[ people ]

Key players and ‘tunnelistas’ By Sara Hayden

The Devil’s Slide tunnels and accompanying bridge and other infrastructure were constructed with the collaboration of countless passionate people. Here are a few of the key players.



[ sara@hmbreview.com ]

“I wanted to see this thing end. I wanted to be sure we had a safe, permanent solution to the project.” — Lennie Roberts

Tom Lantos


Zoe Kersteen-Tucker



Money is the first step in getting a project off the ground, but they don’t get anywhere without solid work. Former Committee for Green Foothills President Zoe Kersteen-Tucker made sure there was follow-through. She got on board in 1995 as the spokeswoman for the Measure T campaign. She remained active throughout the next decade, taking the lead in making sure the project was completed. She presZoe Kersteen- sured Caltrans to ensure that Tucker an environmental impact report was completed so tunnel construction could proceed. “That’s thanks to hundreds and hundreds of people … who came together to pass Measure T,” said Kersteen-Tucker. “I think it’s a significant achievement in the context of today’s political climate that is extremely divisive and where compromise is viewed as a no man’s land.”

Source: Wikipedia.com

Waldo Tunnel

Yerba Buena Tunnel

Broadway Tunnel SF

Caldecott Tunnel West

Devils’ Slide Tunnel South

Wawona Tunnel Yosemite


Lennie Roberts Devils’ Slide Tunnel North

How do they compare?

The new Devil’s Slide Tunnels are the second longest in California. Here is how they compare to other nearby tunnels.



The tunnels are officially named the Tom Lantos Tunnels at Devil’s Slide, and with good reason. The name is a nod to a man who led an extraordinary life and achieved some extraordinary results for the Coastside. The late U.S. representative survived the Holocaust. He was the first person who had done so to serve in Congress. He also served as the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and became a staunch supporter of finding a fix for Devil’s Tom Lantos Slide. Nearly three decades ago, the road failed, halting traffic in its tracks for months. Lantos secured emergency federal money to the tune of $50 million for a longterm solution. That seed money went a long way toward making today’s tunnels possible.

Lennie Roberts had just one goal in mind when she joined the Devil’s Slide battle as the legislative advocate representing the Committee for Green Foothills, which she has been a part of for more than three decades. “I wanted to see this thing Lennie Roberts end,” she said. “I wanted to be sure we had a safe, permanent solution to the project.”

She got involved with the push for Measure T. The campaign turned out to be a smashing success. Voters passed Measure T with 74 percent approval. Later, Roberts was recognized for her efforts, in part due to a no-show at the groundbreaking of the tunnels’ construction. She was charged with ceremonially breaking the ground with a drill. “Here’s this female citizen. All the men were jealous because I’m sure they would have loved to use the big machines,” she joked.

Rich Gordon

Before they were built, some people envisioned tunnels that would blend into the mountainside. Others imagined them to stand out, decorated with ocean waves and other symbols that were representative of the natural area. Now, the tunnels work with the natural landscape, and the associated maintenance center is covered by natural foliage. Rich Gordon What we see on the mountain is due in large part to the efforts of former San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon. He was there to hear all ideas out when he headed up the Aesthetics Committee for the tunnels and then plow forward with the design.

Ted Lempert

The tunnels at Devil’s Slide were certainly born of local efforts, but catching the attention of the federal government was vital to their creation. One man who helped secure federal funds was state Assemblyman Ted Lempert. “It was by the outcry of the community politically, letting the folks in Washington know that the situation in Devil’s Slide was an emergency,” recalled San Mateo Ted Lempert County Senior Planner Sam Herzberg. Lempert introduced a measure that ensured $52 million in federal emergency repair money that Tom Lantos would push to use for improving Highway 1 and the tunnel project. He also introduced a bill that called for Caltrans to immediately draw up plans, a cost estimate and funding to jumpstart the permitting process for the tunnels.

Chris Thollaug

Early on, Sierra Club member Chris Thollaug had decided that a bypass was not the way to go. “Not only would it have been an environmental disaster, it would have been a maintenance distaster,” said Thollaug. He wanted tunnels, which would be “sooner, safer, cheaper,” according to the Measure T campaign slogan. As the chair of the Devil’s Slide task force under the SiChris Thollaug erra Club, he became a hub of information. He served as an archivist and public speaker, and helped coordinate the citizens’ response to the closure of Highway 1 after the 1995 slide. Have the tunnels met his expectations of being sooner, safer and cheaper? “Fifteen years seems like a long time, but frankly, it’s worth it,” said Thollaug.

Charles Kissick

The massive construction project became something of a life’s work for many people. One of them was Charles Kissick, a geologist and engineer who grew up in Skylonda and played a significant role in determining the rock formations and water content around the boring site. Kissick began working on the project in 1996, as an engineer for subcontractor AGS Inc. “Caltrans got the go-ahead to study the tunnel in 1996 and the first thing you do is study Charles Kissick the geology,” Kissick said. His first role was something of a dream job. “For two weeks, I took my sack lunch and hiked around the mountain,” he said. “It was a great job.” Kissick reported back on a site that included jagged granite formations on the south end and more problematic sedimentary rock on the north. He calls that northern stretch “pretty bad rock.” The geology is the result of millions of years of geographic movement. He says the granite traveled 350 miles from the south and the San Andreas Fault. After his paid hike, Kissick was rewarded with 20-hour days while taking core samples of the rock. In 2000 he began his own business, Sigma Prime Geoscience of Princeton. And he retained the contract to monitor groundwater on site. That is a job he did through November 2012. Along the way, he moved his family back to the coast. “I was living in San Francisco,” he explains. “But during downtime I had time to look around. We bought a lot in Montara and lived there for 13 years.” Today he lives in Half Moon Bay and looks forward to a trouble-free drive north on Highway 1.

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[ park ]

Old Highway 1 to become public trail Trail to be opened in 2014 By Sara Hayden [ sara@hmbreview.com ]

If you miss the Devil’s Slide views by car, catch them on foot. The old road will be open as a public trail in the not-toodistant future. Improvements to the natural recreation area prior to its opening are expected to be completed in 2014. The trail between the tunnels’ north and south portals will lead from the west side of Highway 1 at the Montara Lighthouse to the east side of Highway 1 up to Devil’s Slide. The trail will serve bicyclists, pedestrians and runners, and ultimately connect a 4.5-milelong stretch between Princeton and Pacifica. “We always go into these planning periods to develop trails that can be used by as many people as possible,” said Sam Herzberg of the San Mateo County Planning and Building Department. However, the grade of the slope is too steep to meet ADA requirements to make it wheelchair accessible, said planning authorities, and there are restrictions against motorized Segways and skate-

boards. Contractors have been selected and the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors has fronted money to be used on planning and specs, which will be a joint effort between several county departments and other agencies that make up a Devil’s Slide task force. Caltrans will construct parking areas at both ends of the Devil’s Slide tunnels. They will be accessible as soon as the park trails open in 2014. They will be located on the west side of the highway at both portals, said Steve Monowitz, the county’s planning and building deputy director. Officials indicate that there will be about 15 spaces. “This is a patchwork, but we’re all working together to navigate this area,” said Herzberg. “We’ll all have pieces of the puzzle to implement.” This includes wayfaring with signs, and improvements where no trail exists yet. The area will be open 365 days a year and follow regular county park hours. San Mateo County bears temporary responsibility for it. County officials are currently seeking agencies to adopt it, as well as identifying steady

Review File Photo

A model on display at the “punch-through” ceremony at the Devil’s Slide Tunnel project details a proposed parking lot for the coastal bicycle and hiking trail that will lead along the old stretch of highway at the southern entrance to the tunnel.

sources of income for its future maintenance and operations. Eventually, the trail will connect with a series of other trails as part of the Calfornia Coastal Trail, which will ultimately run

Ara Croce, C.R.S.

between Oregon and Mexico. “I think it’s going to be a great addition to the valuable network of trails we have here, so I think it’s something to look forward to,” said Monowitz. r

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How they might have looked The results of the public survey from late 2002 show the elaborate portal designs that were considered. These were the two top vote getters over more subdued designs. The Aesthetics Committee reviewed the survey and comments, but ultimately decided upon a much more minimalist design that blends into the natural surroundings.

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1769 | Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portolá journeys toward San Francisco Bay. Part of his journey takes him to the top of what is now known as Montara Mountain.

1921 | Late U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos is born in Hungary. The congressman will become a key advocate for the tunnels at Devil’s Slide.

1887 | Dr. John L.D. Roberts of New York founds Seaside. After a shipwreck that injures many people in Point Sur, he dreams of smoother roads to reach patients between San Simeon and Carmel, and Highway 1 was conceived. He photographs the area and becomes one of the first surveyors of this area along the coast.

Gaspar de Portolá statue in Pacifica



1919 | Construction begins in earnest on Highway 1.

1912 | Ground is broken for Highway 1.

Stop-and-go journey to completion defines tunnels’ history

1973 | The California Department of Transportation, now known as Caltrans, is formed.

Tunnels open after decades in the making

1980 | Caltrans finds cracks in the road. Hours later, a 30-foot-section of the pavement tumbles into the sea. The road is closed for 7 complete days and 31 nights. During the daytime, traffic can only roll one way.

By Sara Hayden


[sara@hmbreview.com ]

he tunnels rest on the side of the mountain like slumbering twin dragons. Now offering peaceful passage to travelers between Pacifica and Montara, the stretch of Highway 1 that they replace tested Californians’ spirits and tenacity not too long ago. “The story of the development of the path really starts with the Native Americans,” said Dave Cresson, president of the Half Moon Bay History Association. According to Cresson, they may have waited for low tide at the beach, or traversed over a mountaintop footpath to make their way around the rocky point. Spanish explorers also noted the treacherous landscape. In search of agricultural opportunities for the Spanish mission system, Gaspar de Portolá had reportedly embarked on an expedition in 1769. Monterey Bay was his target destination, but he ended up at Montara Mountain instead. In his diary he wrote, “Traveled two hours of very poor road uphill over a very high mountain, stoping (sic) on the height.” From there, maybe de Portolá marveled at the blue of the Pacific Ocean expanding in the distance. Or maybe he was still caught up on the hazardous road conditions. In any case, it has been a bit of both for the adventurers, business people and settlers that followed him. By 1887, Dr. John L.D. Roberts had relocated from New York and founded the community of Seaside. Poor roadways made it difficult for patients to get medical care between San Simeon and Carmel. He photographed the conditions, becoming one of the coast’s first surveyors. The California State Highway Commission broke ground for a project in 1912 that would have addressed Roberts’ complaints — Highway 1. It wasn’t until 1937 that road construction was completed between Pacifica and Montara. It opened to the public on Nov. 11 of that year. Initially called the “Sea-Level Boulevard,” the area has commonly come to be known as Devil’s Slide. It’s evident how the forces of nature have affected people there. Road closures aggravated would-be wayfarers as they found themselves stranded innumerable times and businesses suffered as the slide gave out. In the 1960s, some citizens suggested building a six-lane bypass to help mitigate the closures. Some fought against it. In the meantime, the problem persisted. In 1967, it was closed for 15 days. The bypass surfaced again as a potential solution in 1972 with the blessing of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, but environmentalists lashed out. A bypass threatened beloved views and sensitive creatures, such as bobcats, mountain lions, deer, raccoons, rabbits, garter snakes and red-legged frogs. Representatives from organizations including Committee for Green Foothills, Save Our Shores, El Granada Residents Association and the Local Initiative for the Environment filed a lawsuit to halt the project. The court agreed, and the bypass was shot down. In 1980, Caltrans authorities found cracks in the road. Mere hours later, a 30-foot-section of the pavement tumbled into the sea. Then, three years later, yet another slide put traffic at a standstill when the Devil’s Slide road was closed for 84 days. Congressman Tom Lantos rushed to the rescue, claiming more than $50 million in federal emergency funds to improve Highway 1 and help pay for a long-term solution. In 1995, the road closed for 150 days. Coastsiders put down their foot. The closures were intolerable. They needed a solution — now. In response to a bypass proposal resurfacing, Coastsiders united to pass See HISTORY a 8A

1983 | Road closed for 84 days after landslide. Lantos lobbies for $58 million in emergency repair money. At the 2013 opening ceremony, Mike Moony of Pacifica shows this picture of himself at Devil’s Slide in the ’80s.

1986 | U.S. District Court Judge Robert Peckham grants a temporary restraining order against the construction of the bypass on Sept. 3. Four months later, he stops it, referencing the Transportation Act of 1966.

1995 | Devil’s Slide is closed for nearly six months when the road is washed out after slipping as much as a foot per day. It remains closed for 150 days. In April, Pacifica resident Mitch Reid obtains copy of a 1993 Caltrans memo that reports the agency had little information on tunnels. This contradicts other statements from Caltrans that said they had thoroughly investigated and rejected the option. Tunnel campaign known as Measure T kicks off on Nov. 14. Supporters gather 23,000 signatures on petitions and the measure qualifies for a ballot.

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1960 | An inland road, better known as the Devil’s Slide bypass, is suggested at a state Highway Commission meeting in Pacifica on Aug. 25. The proposal suggested a six-lane freeway that stretched 7.5-mileslong from Shamrock Ranch in Pacifica’s Linda Mar to the Coastside.

1937 | The “Sea-Level Boulevard” is constructed between Pacifica and Montara. Highway 1 opens to the public on Nov. 11.




1964 | Caldecott Tunnel is built. Prior to the Devil’s Slide tunnels, it was the last such project in California.



road By Sara Hayden Graphic by Bill Murray

1972 | Despite furtive complaints from opposition, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors approves building the bypass. On May 22, the Sierra Club, Committee for Green Foothills, Save Our Shore, El Granada Residents Association, the Local Initiative for the Environment acted as plaintiffs in a lawsuit aimed at derailing the project. U.S. District Court Judge William Sweigert rules in favor of environmentalists on Dec. 6. Proposition 20 emerges, establishing the California Coastal Act this same year.

2007 | Tom Lantos secures federal funding for tunnels. Boring for the tunnels begins in September.

1996 | On Oct. 7, a tunnel study reveals that a tunnel would cost about the same as a bypass, $148 million. Measure T is passed on Nov. 5 with about 74 percent of the vote. The measure guards the environment around Montara and San Pedro Mountains.


1966 | Transportation Act of 1966 all but prohibits transportation projects from using public parkland if there is an alternative.

1967 | Slide moves, results in road closure for 15 days.

1971 | On Aug. 7, Gov. Ronald Reagan announces a new coastal highway planning policy that aims to protect the environment.

2008 | Lantos dies in February. He is recognized for having helped secure $150 million in federal funds to pay for the road project, which was combined with another $120 million from the state to install the tunnels and bridges at Devil’s Slide. The tunnels are named the Tom Lantos Tunnels at Devil’s Slide in his honor. The Devil’s Slide bridge is completed at the end of September.

2006 | The road at Devil’s Slide is closed for four months after it gives way yet again. Lantos visits. Construction bids for the tunnels exceed the original Caltrans’ estimate by a cool $32 million.

2009 | Devil’s Slide tunnel construction workers tap into an underground reservoir that resulted in 150 gallons of water rushing out per minute — more than twice the average rate of normal groundwater pockets in the area. It is estimated to contain about 2 million gallons in total. Some of the water is used to improve the habitat of the threatened California red-legged frog.

2011 | Montara Water and Sanitary District sues San Mateo County Local Agency Formation Commission in order to maintain water rights. Excavation for the tunnels is completed on Jan. 18. Construction is halted for two days when high levels of harmful chromium is discovered in the water. Caltrans requires workers to monitor chromium levels.

2012 | Concrete is poured in the Devil’s Slide tunnels, coinciding with Highway 1’s centennial year. In March, San Mateo County officials move forward with installing a stoplight at the tunnel’s south portal.

March 25, 2013 11:33 p.m. The tunnels open.

Photo courtesy Wendy Brown

Source: Caltrans, Review archives.


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[ scenes from the opening ceremony ]

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Bill Murray / Review

The family of the late U.S. Rep. Tom Lantos was on hand to christen the new tunnels named for the project patriarch. Daughter Annette Tillemann-Dick spoke to the crowd.

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The Half Moon Bay High School marching band joined the band from Terra Nova High School in Pacifica to bring music to the event. They also led the cars out of the tunnel as they paraded through.

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Kelly Huber had the unique experience of being able to ride her bike through the tunnel unimpeded.

Charles Russo / Review

A parade of old, classic cars helped open the newest tunnel project in the world.

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Eric Shapira, left, and Michael Wong, are about to enter the tunnel in the parade of vintage cars.

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For one day only, it wasn’t unusual to see people on bicycles and even unicycles making their way through the tunnels.

Bill Murray / Review

John Lynch, left, and other “tunnelistas” celebrate the day.

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Hundreds turned out at the invitation-only event to hear speakers and witness the ribbon-cutting event.

Bill Murray / Review

This photo of the geology near the south portal illustrates the challenging terrain that the tunnel eliminates for motorists.

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[ pacifica ]


Can You Say: “Tunnel Special???”

Meet your neighbors to the north

Come in and order any entrée and get a free bowl of Jose Luis' wonderful vegan puree of the day! Only the week the tunnel opens: Tuesday, March 26th – Friday, March 29th

They were always there, but the tunnels provide a new symbolic link between Pacifica and the rest of the Coastside.

“We’re very happy. I imagine this is going to bring us much closer together as a community … There will be no more closures, which severely impacted businesses on this side and on the other side.”

Look for Sunday brunch starting in April! Sign up on our mailing list for details and more.

Cheryl Yoes, president of the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce and owner of the Dial Glass and Window Company

“It’ll actually get a lot more customers out to Pacifica – actually both ways … We get a lot of birthday parties from the Coastside, usually for ages between 2 and 11.” Tracie Tang, Sea Bowl special events director

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Hikers can ride, fishermen can ride. We go to the golf course. You can bring your golf clubs on board. The only think we don’t allow is dogs, and that’s for a liability reason.” David Rogers, associate civil engineer for Pacifica’s Department of Public Works

“We’re looking at it as safety for our residents … as well as an economic boost for our businesses … We’ll hopefully capture those folks coming into Pacifica.” Courtney Conlon, Pacifica Chamber of Commerce CEO

(Rogers is talking about a new weekend shuttle, which launched over the winter. It runs on an hourly basis around the city. Once the recreation area opens at Devil’s Slide sometime next year, the shuttle will extend its services so people can enjoy the new park area. Call 738-3767 for more information.)

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Living in Pacifica and running a business in Montara, I resonate with the tunnel being constructed in every aspect of my life. In the past, when the slide “went down,” my commute to The Graphic Works (on Main Street in Montara) went from 8 minutes to an hour. This little part of Highway 1 has a huge effect on my business, my livelihood and my children’s daily care. Don’t get me wrong... I will really miss the breathtaking view of driving over the old Slide, but I look forward to the stability and ease of the new tunnel. Kelly Davis-Hoffman, The Graphic Works Owner

“I’ve always loved the spot that’s become Lovey’s. Pacifica was actually selected because I moved here about seven years ago … Did the slides deter me? No, no. They did not deter me. They deterred me from moving to Montara, which I had considered doing years ago … I still dream of living in Montara.” Muna Nash, Lovey’s Tea Shoppe owner

Moonraker Just Got Closer! And so did these specials… …only two miles from the north end of the tunnel

[ trivia ]

How was Devil’s Slide named? Historians are stumped about the origin of the name, other than for its obvious connotations. Half Moon Bay History Association’s Dave Cresson has heard a theory that it was the translation of a word in a Native American language, but he has alternatively heard that it was named for the way that the rock fractures there. Although Cresson said he can’t verify either theory, it does seem aptly named. “The face twists and turns. Sheets of rock just fold up on each other in serpentine patterns,” said Cresson. “You can see the forces of the earth working on each other over the eons.”

Has Devil’s Slide been featured in movies?

You bet. Apart from the road closures, Hollywood has saluted the area on the silver screen with an infamous scene from a “Portrait in Black.” In the Universal Studios film, two ill-fated lovers, played by Anthony Quinn and Lana Turner, push a car over the edge of the slide. It contained the body of a murdered man. The studio had to obtain special permission from the state in order to shoot the scene. As part of the deal, the crew had to get the car from the bottom of the cliff after filming had wrapped. There is no official count of the number of regular motorists who took a fateful trip over the rocks.

What’s that spooky house on the rocks?

World War II military personnel were stationed out there so that they might spot and locate passing enemy ships. They stayed in concrete structures called “pillboxes.”

Not the only Devil’s Slide

There’s a steep precipice called Devil’s Slide in Hawaii on an island called Nihoa. In Southern California, the Old Santa Susana Stage Road boasts its own perilous Devil’s Slide. There are also rock formations by the same name in Utah and Montana. Even Germany has its own version — the Teufelsrutsch.

Wednesday: All Night Happy Hour, DIscounted Drinks, $1 Oysters 4:30 – 9:30 pm, The Moonraker Bar Thursday: All You Can Eat Fish & Chips 4:30 – 9:30 pm , $15/person, The Moonraker Bar Sunday Champagne Brunch 10:30am – 2pm, Moonraker Restaurant



half moon bay review

[ HISTORY ] a Continued from page 4A

Measure T in November of 1996. Seventy-four percent of voters approved building tunnels to stabilize traveling conditions. Kiewit Pacific Co. beat out a competing contractor in 2006 for the Devil’s Slide contract. The project included construction of two tunnels, a bridge on the north side, roadway revisions, equipment buildings and a subterranean office building. The company thought they had competitor Shea, Traylor and Atkinson beat by estimating that they could complete the project 400 days earlier and for $50 million less. Kiewit projected that the whole project would cost a total of $272 million. But until its completion, it remained the stuff of dreams, and the woes of a wayward road persisted. Ground had been ceremonially broken for the project in 2005, but in April 2006 when the tunnels had yet to be constructed, Caltrans determined that the Devil’s Slide road was impassable and closed it off to traffic for about four months. It opened again in August. In September 2007, crews finally tapped into Montara Mountain. Boring began for the two tunnels. By July 2008, both houses of the state legislature honored U.S. Rep. Lantos and the tireless work he dedicated to the road project by naming the tunnels after him. He had died in February that same year. There were still no tunnels, but now Lantos had a legacy: the Tom Lantos Tunnels at Devil’s Slide. The bridge was completed in fall. Light was literally visible at the end of the tunnel in 2010, when there was a ceremony for breaking through Montara Mountain in October. The tunnels were to open in 2011, but their concrete wasn’t poured until February of 2012. The delays were caused by


special devil’s slide tunnel opening


wednesday, march 27, 2013

First tunnel in state in 50 years

construction workers battling the environment, between movement of the soil and puncturing into water pockets. At one point it vied for a spot on the priority list against the Bay Bridge, remembered San Mateo County Senior Planner Sam Herzberg. “Which was the highest priority in the Bay Area? I think Devil’s Slide fell behind the Bay Bridge for a time,” said Herzberg. “Even when you had all the funding, you had to get in line and wait.” Most recently, there was an extended period of testing electrical and safety systems — the finishing touch on this beast of a project. The tunnels are probably unlike anything that the Native Americans, de Portolá or Roberts could possibly have fathomed when they first dreamed of better ways to travel. They are nothing short of an engineering feat. Engineers designed the tunnels using the new Austrian Tunneling Method, which was first developed in the late 1950s. It’s a technique characterized by using the strength of the surrounding rock to stabilize the tunnels. Lab tests of rock cores helped engineers gauge how

Half Moon Bay History Association / Courtesy

The route, circa 1920, that was replaced by Highway 1 in 1937.

one blanket of support, and reinforced concrete for further support. Going forward, many agencies are teaming together to ensure smooth passage

Engineers designed the tunnels using the “new Austrian Tunneling Method, which was first developed in the late 1950s. It’s a technique characterized by using the strength of the surrounding rock to stabilize the tunnels. to navigate the mountain. Then they worked on the tunnels from the inside out. Bit by bit, workers chipped away at the tunnel by drilling and using controlled explosives to excavate the mountain. Later, they added fiber-reinforced concrete, rockbolts and lattice girders to create

for all. In the event of an accident at the tunnel, Caltrans has developed an emergency response plan in coordination with the California Highway Patrol, Cal Fire and other local emergency reponse agencies. The California Highway Patrol and San Mateo County Sheriff’s Of-

fice will handle law enforcement. Half Moon Bay Mayor Rick Kowalczyk is anxious to see the tunnels completed, which he’s nicknamed “the Half Moon Bay tunnels.” He said that he thinks it means safer access to the coast and Half Moon Bay, as well as Pacifica. “I see it as all upside – it’s all good,” said Kowalczyk. “(But) I think people should take a look at how long it took to get this good project done … I hope that, going forward, government can be more efficient so we can get projects done that serve our community better and more efficiently, more cheaply. It’s sort of a running joke in most circles that this took far, far too long.” The tunnels opened to the public on March 25, years later than expected and millions of dollars over budget. r

[ publisher’s note ]


It’s open. After hundreds of stories and thousands of photographs about our infamous little stretch of California coast, it is a great pleasure to be able to put that headline in the Half Moon Bay Review. The Tom Lantos Tunnels at Devil’s Slide are open. Reading through our archive of stories has been fascinating. It is not an overstatement to say that some local residents have given most of their lives to this project. I had worked with the Committee for Green Foothills for many years and witnessed the passion and commitment that Zoe Kersteen-Tucker and April Vargas have, not just for this project, but for whatever they set their minds to. Whether you have been a proponent of the tunnels since the inception of the idea or supported the bypass all along, we can at least agree that the dedication and commitment to see this project to fruition is inspiring. May these tunnels increase the safety of all who travel through our rugged and beautiful coastline.







THE BOAT LAUNCHING RAMP Bill Murray, Publisher and proud Montara resident

Caltrans / Courtesy

Highway 1 has been prone to buckles and breaks at Devil’s Slide throughout the decades. Hazardous conditions by the 1990s proved intolerable, and spurred citizens to pursue a tunnel project as a solution.









Your Light at the End of the Fitness Tunnel Since 2004 More at www.studio4pilates.com



Profile for Wick Communications

Devils Slide Tunnel Opening  

Special section on the opening of the Devils Slide Tunnel on Highway 1. Published by the Half Moon Bay Review.

Devils Slide Tunnel Opening  

Special section on the opening of the Devils Slide Tunnel on Highway 1. Published by the Half Moon Bay Review.