Tunnel cost estimate expected Oct. 7

Half Moon Bay Review, July 2, 1996

By Marc DesJardins

The estimated cost of rerouting Highway 1 at Devil's Slide through a tunnel will be available one month before a countywide vote on the matter, according to a tunnel study timeline released last week.

How willing CalTrans will be to release the information, however, remains to be seen.

According to a schedule distributed last week to members of the Citizens Advisory Group, a committee of four that will review the tunnel report, a draft of the study will be completed Oct. 7.

The draft is expected to include the estimated cost of boring a tunnel through San Pedro Mountain as a permanent repair of Highway 1 at Devil's Slide. At that point, it is expected that at least one local meeting will be scheduled to give residents a look at the study's findings.

Whether CalTrans will allow the public review, however, is uncertain. Tunnel study project manager Gordon Marsh of Woodward-Clyde said he would turn the information over to CalTrans, and what they do with it is out of his hands.

CalTrans spokesmen, meanwhile, have been told they cannot comment on the tunnel study, and Joe Brown, CalTrans' regional director, was unavailable for comment.

Regardless, one citizens' committee member said last week he feels a public comment period would be warranted.

"I think it's a great idea to get some of that information out to the public," said Tim Manzagol, an engineering geologist and member of the citizens' review committee. Half Moon Bay Mayor Debbie Ruddock, Pacifica geotechnical engineer Michael Tietze and county Planning Commissioner Adrienne Tissier are also members.

San Mateo County voters will be asked Nov. 5 whether they want to alter the county's Local Coastal Program to make a tunnel the preferred repair of Highway 1 at the slide-prone area. However, the Woodward-Clyde study, which will address six possible tunnel alignments and their costs, is not expected to be finalized until Nov. 4.

In addition to the Oct. 7 date, the timeline reveals the speed at which Woodward-Clyde is moving forward with the report.

Within three weeks, on July 15, the consultant is expected to have a draft report on all possible tunnel alignments _ including test bores and tunnel designs. Test crews have been working on San Pedro Mountain 20 hours a day, five days a week, over the past month to ensure they meet the study deadlines, according to Marsh. The late-night work, in particular the high-powered lights used at the drilling sites, has spurred a number of calls to the county Sheriff's Department from residents fearing there was a fire on the mountain. The drilling is expected to be completed July 5.

Half Moon Bay Review