After years of planning, leveraging local resources, and construction, I am proud to announce we are in the final days of our countdown to the opening of the Caldecott fourth bore tunnel. Barring last-minute changes between this writing and publishing this column, the tunnel will open to traffic in less than 10 days; sometime during the weekend of Nov. 16. Through collaborative management by Caltrans and our Contra Costa Transportation Authority, the tunnel will be open ahead of schedule and within the original budget, both significant achievements.
State Route 24 currently carries about 160,000 vehicles daily through the three existing tunnels. Traffic congestion is experienced in the peak and off-peak directions. The new fourth bore will relieve congestion in the non-commute direction by permanently dedicating two bores to westbound traffic and two to eastbound traffic. This will eliminate the need to reverse traffic direction in the center bore twice a day to accommodate morning and evening commute traffic, and add greater predictability on weekends.
The new tunnel has sophisticated fire-life-safety systems and intelligent technology and is designed to reopen to emergency traffic within 72 hours of a major earthquake. A state-of-the-art Operations and Maintenance Control building is under construction. The new facility will be the “nerve center” for the four Caldecott tunnels, as well as the Webster-Posey tubes in Alameda County.
Your voter-approved Contra Costa Measure J sales tax dollars contributed $120.6 million to the $417 million total cost of the new tunnel. In the absence of state bond capacity during the recession, federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) funds provided $194 million, making the tunnel one of the largest Recovery Act projects in the country. Regional toll bridge and state funds also contributed. The fourth bore provided thousands of jobs to stimulate our county’s economy while completing this marquee project.
Holidays are coming
With Oktoberfest and Halloween behind us and the winter holidays quickly approaching, this seems a good time to think about how we can all give back a little and contribute to our community. The Clayton Business and Community Association hosted another successful and very profitable Oktoberfest event. All funds raised by CBCA from their many annual fundraising events provide college scholarships and major support for our local school programs, Clayton non-profit organizations, and numerous activities and events in our community.
CBCA also pays for and puts up all the holiday decorations in our downtown and hosts the annual Tree Lighting and the Santa and Mrs Claus Tea. To prepare for the December festivities, more volunteers are greatly needed to help decorate our downtown. You don’t need to be a member to help out. Just meet by the Museum at 9 a.m. on Nov. 16. It only takes a few hours and it will get you in the mood to celebrate. I hope to see you there.
As always, you can reach me at JPierce@ci.clayton.ca.us. Let me know what you think.