Last Friday, as the Vice-Chair of the Contra Costa Transportation Committee, I had the opportunity to attend the ribbon cutting for the fourth bore of the Caldecott tunnel.
The fourth bore opened early in the morning of Saturday, Nov. 16; nearly four years after construction began. The $417 million project, 3,200 feet tunnel bored through the hillside just north of the existing bores, was completed on time and under budget. The Contra Costa Transportation Authority, which shouldered more than a quarter of the $417 million dollar cost with voter-approved Measure J funds, partnered with Federal government and The Metropolitan Transportation Committee (MTC) to fund the project. The largest amount of funding came from the federal government through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At the time in 2009, the $194.3 million amount was the largest ARRA project in the country. Funding also came from Bay Area bridge toll revenue, and proposition 1B, a 2006 voter-approved state transportation bond. Additional funding was provided by the Alameda County Transportation Commission
The fourth bore has seven passage ways connecting the new bore with the existing one to the south. These passages can be used for emergency evacuations. The fourth bore is also outfitted with a number of safety upgrades, including wide shoulders and a series of powerful jet fans to blow smoke out of the tunnel in the event of a car mishap or fire.
The fourth bore will have three “medallions” cast out of concrete on each side of the tunnel. The medallions will be located above the tunnel openings on the eastern and western sides and will become a part of this regional landmark for years to come. The artwork was selected through the Caldecott Medallion Design Competition which provided children in grades K-12 in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties an opportunity to play a role in the design of an important architectural detail of the Fourth Bore.
“Art Deco Revisited” was selected as the Contest’s theme through an online public survey prior to the launch of the competition, in deference to the Art Deco medallions featured on the 1937 Caldecott tunnels. The original Caldecott Tunnel medallions that adorn the portals of the first two bores feature the decorative art deco style that was born in the 1920s. Art Deco is characterized by simple and bold geometric shapes, clean lines and often features abstract symbols.