It took decades of activism to reroute Highway 1 away from a state park and through this tunnel. Photo by: Caltrans
After decades of work by Chapter volunteer activists, a ballot measure, a lawsuit, and, finally, construction, the Devil’s Slide Tunnel, on Highway 1 along the coast between Pacifica and Montara, opened in March. The dispute began in 1958, when California’s “Division of Highways” (now Caltrans) tired of repairing the stretch of Highway 1 that crossed the steep, unstable Devil’s Slide, suggested replacing it with a road through McNee Ranch State Park.
Interested in keeping the park as a park and not a thoroughfare, the Chapter opposed that proposal. The suggestion to instead build a tunnel surfaced as early as 1975. The issue heated up in 1983, when yet another slide closed the road—by then the state had acquired most of the right of way for their suggested bypass and had done some construction on it. The Club sued the state successfully in 1985 to stop the construction.
Yet another road closure in 1995 brought the issue once again to the fore, with the state still interested in building the McNee Ranch route. In 1996, the Chapter was instrumental in passing San Mateo Measure T, putting county voters solidly on the side (by 76%) of the tunnel.
After all this time, the state can assure drivers that Highway 1 won’t be closed by the next rockslide at Devil’s Slide … and we still have McNee Ranch State Park.