SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) – Work is underway on a new 5-mile tunnel under the San Francisco Bay that will transport billions of gallons of water to cities on the Peninsula.

The tunnel, which crews began constructing on Friday, is part of a $4.6 billion project to overhaul the Hetch Hetchy water system. The system serves about 2.5 million customers in the San Francisco Bay area.

Water is currently transported across the bay on decaying pipelines supported on wooden trestles.

The new pipeline will be underground, making it more secure in case of an earthquake. It will run between Newark and Menlo Park and cost about $570 million.

Officials are expecting delivery in about eight months of a tunnel boring machine from Japan that will cut through the silt, clay and rock at the bottom of the Bay.

(© CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  1. Tigerloose says:

    I find it odd that a tunnel under the bay would be a better bet during an earthquake. The rolling earth we see on the surface also happens below the surface. If it is buried beneath the bay there will be no fixing it. How much would new pipes on the surface cost as compared to $570 million to bury it? The $570 mil will most likely double before it is done.

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