Caldecott Tunnel Project Underway

Caroline Golden

On Friday Jan. 22, the official groundbreaking for construction of a fourth bore to the Caldecott Tunnel occurred. About 250 people gathered for the occasion, and Caltrans officials made speeches and ceremoniously shoveled dirt.

Frozen funds from transportation infrastructure bonds nearly jeopardized construction. Despite the current state budget crisis, federal stimulus funds have secured the project, and the construction is underway, approximated to take four years to complete.

The construction is estimated to require $420 million, with around $270 million allocated for the actual boring of the tunnel.

On the border of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, the Caldecott Tunnel serves as a major commuter route for State Route 24 traffic with 160,000 motorists daily.

“This project will reduce local traffic congestion while creating nearly 6,000 jobs for California – and is a solid investment in the future of the Bay Area’s transportation infrastructure,” said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Department of Transportation, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, and the Alameda Congestion Management Agency are cooperating on this project.

The fourth bore will be constructed north of the existing three tunnel bores and will eliminate the daily reversal of traffic direction for the center tunnel, designating the northernmost bore in addition to the new bore to permanently stand for westbound traffic and the two southernmost bores for eastbound traffic.

In addition, the current maintenance building will be torn down and workers will construct a new two-story building for tunnel operations and maintenance. This new building will improve safety for the travelling public as well as Caltrans maintenance workers.

The new tunnel bore will be 3,389 feet long and 41.25 feet wide. Several cross-passages will connect the new bore to the existing bores as emergency exits.