With the opening Friday of a fourth tube in the Caldecott Tunnel, commuters in the Bay Area will turn the page on a new chapter in transportation.
It's a chapter about the effectiveness of partnership, a partnership of dedicated workers, a 130-ton rock-cutting drill, the state of California, and --I'm proud to say-- the U.S. Department of Transportation. How effective? As the Contra Costa Times reported, the new lanes opened ahead of schedule and under budget.
Workers put finishing touches on new Caldecott bore; all photos courtesy Caltrans.
By adding a new travel lane in each direction and eliminating a dreaded, traffic-halting bottleneck, it's also about saving families time, reducing the pollution associated with road congestion, and helping area businesses ensure that their customers have reliable access.
The Caldecott Tunnel is traveled by commuters in and around East Bay communities like the City of Oakland and Contra Costa County. But it's also a key route for those traveling between the Bay Area and Napa, Sonoma, and Solano Counties. In fact, nearly 160,000 drivers each day use the tunnel. The two new lanes will make a significant difference in their travels and in their quality of life.
During President Obama's time in office, the Recovery Act and other core infrastructure funds have helped improve more than 330,000 miles of U.S. roads, and they've led to the creation of millions of jobs.
But, of all the highway projects undertaken with Recovery Act funds, the Caldecott Tunnel's fourth bore is certainly one of the largest.
This project received $194 million in federal funding. And now that the tube is officially open to drivers, the two new travel lanes can begin freeing up the flow of traffic and improving safety.
And, while construction on the Caldecott is drawing to a close, there are countless projects like it that are waiting to get started across the country.
The United States has the best transportation system in the world. And President Obama and all of us at DOT are committed to ensuring that it stays that way.
But that requires investing in our transportation system. Not only to maintain the tunnels, bridges, runways and rails that we already have, but to build the ones our growing population and economy need. That's why, just last week, the President called for more transportation investment and said that "rebuilding our infrastructure could be part of a bipartisan budget deal."
In a country where so many issues are so divisive, more and more people are coming to see what those who travel the Caldecott today will see: a remarkable work of engineering, the hard work of the thousands of men and women who helped build it, and the effective partnership that improved a critical transportation resource.
The better roads, rails, and runways President Obama and DOT have in mind don't just keep Americans moving; they keep the American economy moving, too.