Officials Break Ground on Caldecott Tunnel Fourth Bore Project
Orinda, CA, January 22, 2010... MTC Chair Scott Haggerty and other officials thrust ceremonial shovels into the dirt today, breaking ground on the highly anticipated Caldecott Tunnel Fourth Bore Project, a four-year, $420 million project that will reduce congestion on Route 24 by building a fourth tunnel bore at the Caldecott Tunnel linking Oakland to Orinda and the rest of central Contra Costa County.
“We’re grateful to the voters, taxpayers and the transportation leaders. This project was saved by the injection of ARRA funds,” said Amy Rein Worth, Orinda Councilmember and MTC Commissioner, who provided welcoming remarks at the ceremony and introduced each of the 14 speakers.
A quintessential “shovel ready” project, the Fourth Bore Project is funded with $197.5 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, better known as federal stimulus funds, money allocated for boosting the economy while providing critical infrastructure.
The Caldecott Tunnel Fourth Bore Project is the largest Recovery Act allocation to date in the nation.
“Today we break ground on a project that combines the future benefit of congestion relief with the present benefit of job creation,” said Haggerty during the groundbreaking ceremony, noting the tunnel-building portion of the project would create nearly 6,000 jobs, both directly and indirectly.
The project is also funded with state, regional and local funds, and is a partnership between Caltrans, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency.
“Financing this project was a group effort,” said Haggerty. “A year ago funding a project of this scale was extremely difficult; financial markets were not lending and this groundbreaking date was in jeopardy. However, we went to the federal government and secured nearly $200 million in federal stimulus funds to jump start this project.”
For many years, the thought of a fourth tunnel bore seemed like fantasy, with budget shortfalls and escalating construction costs seemingly putting the project out of reach. However, voters in Contra Costa County extended a half-cent sales tax, money that has been leveraged into $122 million in funding for the project.
Construction crews will build a two-lane, two-thirds mile long tunnel north of the existing three bores. Upon completion, the new bore and the current northern bore will be permanently dedicated to westbound traffic, while the two southern bores will carry eastbound traffic. The new configuration will eliminate the current situation where workers at the tunnel must reverse the traffic direction in the center bore twice a day to accommodate the morning and evening commutes.
Having more than $2 billion in Recovery Act funding, California leads the nation in infrastructure projects, with 790 highway and local street transportation projects statewide. Of these, 427 projects worth $2.36 billion have been awarded contracts to begin work, with an additional $317.8 million in federal stimulus funds expected to be awarded to 106 projects by the end of April.
What They Said
“This new configuration will eliminate the need to reverse the traffic direction in the existing center bore twice a day to accommodate morning and evening commuters,” said Randell Isawaki, Director, California Department of Transportation. He also noted that Caltrans workers have had to shift the tunnels as many as 13 times a day.
“We’re in a big hurry to get this done – it’s
been a long time coming. The inevitable slowdown on Hwy. 24 is going
to be eliminated, gone (we’re hopeful).”
“Voters in Contra Costa County made this project a reality when
they passed Measure J. Measure J provides nearly 30 percent of the
project funding. Without it, there would be no Fourth Bore Project.”
“This project will dramatically reduce congestion for Alameda
County residents who make the reverse commute into Contra Costa County
on weekdays. It will also help reduce backups on weekends when traffic
tends to be less predictable.”
“This project will strengthen the nation’s economy with
jobs and improve the area’s livability by reducing the traffic
congestion that frustrates the thousands who use this route each day.”
“This is a joyous day for many of us.”
Metropolitan Transportation Commission • 101 Eighth Street, Oakland, California 94607
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