On Nov. 5, San Mateo County voters will have the opportunity to throw out the controversial "Martini Creek Bypass" project as the solution to the crumbling roadway of Highway 1 south of Pacifica.
Measure T, placed on the ballot by an energized populace, (rather than an enlightened bureaucracy), replaces the Bypass project which is already part of the county's Local Coastal Plan with the concept of a tunnel.
Tribune Editor and Publisher Chris Hunter visited a couple of smaller tunnels, built within the last five years, in Minnesota recently and came back with a sense that a Devil's Slide Tunnel would, indeed, be a wonderful solution to the local problem. [Webmaster's note: the Tribune published a story on these tunnels in the same issue.]
The mystery, as Measure T opponents rightfully point out, is that there's no "guarantee" for funding of a tunnel project.
While in Minnesota, Hunter came to realize that the Federal Highway Administration is very much interested in helping local communities have input into their transportation decisions. With the FHWA's funding of the $2.6 million tunnel study, there is little reason to believe they would abandon the coastside on the issue of a tunnel. The Feds love to be heroes, whether they're Republicans or Democrats.
There's enough data already released by the independent tunnel study (even though some tunnel proponents insist Caltrans is still trying to scotch the whole deal) to let us legitimately assume a tunnel through San Pedro Mountain is feasible.
What remains is a matter of design and cost.
Vote yes on Measure T and then let's all get behind the political effort needed to build what could easily become on of the world's most beautiful highway projects.
Sometimes, you just have to take a leap of faith.