OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Working overnight, Caltrans crews were able to install four portable generators at the Caldecott Tunnel, allowing the vital commuter link to remain open during Pacific Gas & Electric’s Public Safety Power Shutdown.
Caltrans had issued a warning that it was preparing to close the tunnel due to the power being shutoff to the surrounding neighborhoods in Berkeley and Oakland at noon on Wednesday.
“The Caldecott Tunnel will remain open during the entire public safety power shutoff event,” said Caltrans Tony Tavares. “We are confident the generators are working right, the tunnel will stay open.”
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The threatened shutdown would have created a traffic nightmare. At least 181,000 commuters use the Caldecott Tunnel each day.
Tavares said three of the generators will be used to power lights, ventilation, security systems and fire prevention equipment in the four bores of the tunnel during the outage. The fourth generator will be held in reserve.
“The generators will last more than seven days,” he said. “We will keep them onsite for the duration of this entire PSPS season until the rainy season comes in.”
Caltrans was also in the process of purchasing its own custom-build 3-megawatt generator to provide power in future emergencies. The $6 million generator was expected to be delivered in Spring 2020.
Tavares said the heavily used Lantos Tunnel along State Route 1 in Pacifica would also remain open during the current power outage.
“The Tom Lantos Tunnel will remain open,” he told reporters. “We’ve been working with our partners and we have two power feeds — one coming from in from Half Moon Bay and one coming in from Pacifica. The source at Pacifica will not be turned off.”