Public seeks answers to tunnel study queries

Half Moon Bay Review, July 24, 1996

By Eric Rice

Work on geologic issues surrounding the independent Devil's Slide tunnel study is nearly complete and may be presented for public review at the end of this month. But the equally pressing issue of how much it would cost to construct it is not expected to be answered until early October.

At a public forum Tuesday night of the Citizens Advisory Committee, which is serving as a liaison between the tunnel consultant and the public, committee members said the study is proceeding quickly, but many questions remain unanswered. The purpose of the meeting was to get a handle on exactly what questions the public and committee members want to ensure are answered in the study when its findings are presented.

While the entire study is not expected to be completed until at least early October, significant parts are already nearing completion.

"To summarize, it's going well," said Tim Manzagol, a member of the committee.

Manzagol reported to the approximately 75 people in the audience at Hatch School, the vast majority of them pro-tunnel, that preliminary studies of the geologic issues indicate a tunnel can be constructed through Montara Mountain. Manzagol spoke with the project manager for the study on Monday on its progress.

"The results they've gotten relative to site conditions have been good," he said of the mountain's geology.

The bright white lights atop Montara Mountain most nights for the past couple weeks have been drilling crews doing test borings into the mountain to determine the characteristics and properties of the rock. Manzagol said about 80 percent of the study's drilling program is complete.

Committee members hope to pry that information loose from the California Department of Transportation and release it to the public following an important daylong meeting slated for July 31 at CalTrans headquarters in Oakland. CalTrans, the study consultant, Woodward-Clyde, and a panel of tunnel experts will be on hand to review the study's progress to date.

About 20 members of the public raised questions they want to see answered in the study. One repeated question is why an originally proposed 46-foot-wide tunnel is not being seriously studied. Other questions to be answered focused on issues of safety, cost, and how the study's findings will be disseminated to the public in time for the Nov. 5 Measure T vote for or against a tunnel.

Several people pleaded with the committee to ensure that, in addition to information on a tunnel, the study provides updated cost estimates for the approved 4.5-mile inland Martini Creek Bypass. Half Moon Bay Mayor and committee member Debbie Ruddock agreed, saying that is essential in order for voters to be able to compare "apples with apples" when they decide how to vote on Measure T.

Manzagol presented a list of 38 questions he and the commitee had already come up with to be answered by the consultant. The ones raised Tuesday will be added to that and be asked at another public forum next Tuesday, July 30. That meeting will be a joint session with the Advisory Committee as well as San Mateo County's tunnel expert, plus possibly representatives of the firm conducting the study and CalTrans. That meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the Ted Adcock Community/Senior Center, 535 Kelly Ave., in Half Moon Bay.

Additional public forums like Tuesday nights are also planned, but not yet scheduled, for Pacifica and Redwood City.

Half Moon Bay Review