Caldecott Tunnel


Caldecott Tunnel

The Caldecott Tunnel is a three bore highway tunnel in Oakland, California. The east-west tunnel is signed as a part of State Route 24, and connects Oakland to communities in Contra Costa County, through the Berkeley Hills. The tunnel is named after Thomas E. Caldecott, mayor of Berkeley from 1930-1932, and president of Joint Highway District 13, which built the first two bores.

BART could not run through the tunnel, so the Bart district built the Berkeley Hills Tunnel.

Bore 1 (the southernmost bore) and Bore 2 were completed in 1937 and are each 3,610 feet (1,100 m) long and carry two lanes of traffic. Bore 3 (the northernmost bore), built in 1964, is 3,771 feet (1,149 m) in length, and also carries two traffic lanes.

The middle bore (Bore 2) can be shifted to accommodate heavy traffic. Generally, it carries westbound traffic from about midnight to noon and eastbound traffic from about noon to midnight.

History

In the 19th century, traffic over the Berkeley Hills in this area went up Harwood Canyon, now known as Claremont Canyon (behind the Claremont Hotel). The road leading up the canyon from the west was initially called Harwood's Road, later changed to Telegraph Road, and finally, Claremont. The road on the other side of the hills was, and remains Fish Ranch Road. An inn once existed at the summit.

In 1903, a tunnel was built above the present location of the Caldecott Tunnel, in the next canyon south of Claremont Canyon. This tunnel was approached by a new road dubbed "Tunnel Road" which started at the top of Ashby Avenue in Berkeley.

In 1929, construction of the first two bores of the Caldecott Tunnel began. They were completed in 1937, and were originally known as the Broadway Low Level Tunnel as the approach was from the top of Broadway in Oakland, and was below the portal of the old tunnel. However, access from Ashby Avenue was retained as it was designated the connecting thoroughfare from the Eastshore Highway (now Freeway) and the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge, and dubbed State Highway 24. The approach to the east portal on the other side of the Berkeley Hills was via Mount Diablo Blvd., also at that time part of State Highway 24.

The third bore was opened in 1964. In the late 1960s, the Grove-Shafter Freeway was completed and replaced Broadway as the main access route to the Caldecott Tunnel from Oakland as well as replacing Ashby as the principal connector for traffic coming from San Francisco. Ashby Avenue and Tunnel Road were redesignated State Highway 13 and aligned with the new Warren Freeway through the Montclair District of Oakland. The Grove-Shafter Freeway was then designated State Highway 24.

In 1982, an accident involving a gasoline truck in the north bore set off the Caldecott Tunnel fire. [ [http://jalopnik.com/cars/retro/25-years-since-the-great-caldecott-tunnel-fire-252688.php Brief Description of Fire] ] The accident caused major damage, and the bore was closed to traffic while repairs were made. During the fire, the tunnel acted as a natural chimney venting the smoke, flames and heat toward the east side entrance to the tunnel. The accident and fire killed seven people. It occurred shortly after midnight when there were few cars in the tunnel. If it had occurred during normal commute hours, hundreds could have died. As a result of the fire, it is now illegal to transport hazardous material in a tank truck through the tunnel except between the light traffic hours of 3:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. [ [http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d13/vc31301.htm California Vehicle code.] ]

In 1991, the box canyon just to the north of the Caldecott Tunnel was the site of the origin of a catastrophic Oakland firestorm. The fire spread quickly from the canyon down both sides of the west portal of the tunnel on its way to killing 25 and destroying over three thousand homes, apartments and condominiums.

In 2000, the California Department of Transportation began planning the possibility of a fourth bore, due to increased traffic along the route.

The Caldecott Tunnel was designated a City of Oakland Landmark in 1980, and received a Preservation Award from the Art Deco Society of California in 1993.

On February 28, 2007, the California Transportation Commission approved the final funding needed to build the fourth bore. [http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/16805435.htm]

On July 26, 2007, A car broke out into flames and 2 of the 3 bores were closed down. [ [http://www.kron4.com/Global/story.asp?S=6847467 Caldecott Tunnel Now Back Open After Vehicle Fire ] ]

Trivia

*The Caldecott was the filming location of a chase scene in George Lucas's movie THX 1138.
*"Caldecott Tunnel" is the name of a song by the band Something Corporate.
*At times, weather conditions can vary greatly from one end of the tunnel to the other. In summer, for example, motorists may enter the tunnel from the east where it is sunny and warm, and emerge on the west end into fog and cold. In winter, during spells of inland tule fog, the reverse can occur.
*Caldecott is the name of the band from nearby Moraga, California

ee also

*Caldecott Tunnel fire

External links

* [http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/caldecott/index.html California Department of Transportation website on the Caldecott Improvement Project]

References


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