The long awaited Cal Park Hill Tunnel is now open! All the work by the County of Marin, Marin County Bicycle Coalition(MCBC), and others now pays off with a quick, smooth ride through the hill that separates San Rafael from the ferry terminal in Larkspur and southern Marin County. The shared use path will share the tunnel with the SMART commuter trains when they start running, though the path is walled off from the train in the tunnel and has it's own ventilation system. The tunnel features lighting, video monitoring, and cell phone reception, a fire suppression system, and graffiti resistant walls.
The original tunnel was constructed in 1884 as part of the Northwestern Pacific line that carried freight and passengers to Tiburon and Sausalito. The tunnel was then expanded in 1924 to allow for double tracking and an electrified passenger trail. Freight continued to run on the line until the late 1970s, when Marin County purchased the corridor for future passenger rail and trail use. Due to deterioration, unstable rock, and fires, the north and south sections of the tunnel both collapsed in the 1980's.
To reconstruct the tunnel, all the wood timbers had to be removed and replaced with steel arches that were then encased in shotcrete embedded with small steel fibers to increase flexibility. The new tunnel will also accommodate the SMART commuter rail line, and the trail will be walled off from the rail line to prevent trail users from accessing the tracks. The trail will have a separate ventilation system from the train track, which will have diesel engines running on the line.
The Tunnel is an important part of the North-South Greenway in Marin County, which is envisioned as a largely off street network that will run 25 miles connecting the various cities and valleys along the way to ferries and commuter rail options.
The path can be accessed from the Larkspur Landing Shopping Center on the south and off of Andersen Drive in San Rafael on the North.
The tunnel is closed from 11 PM to 5 AM each night, but the county will review the closure in mid 2011 to determine if it can remain open 24/7.
Parking and Trail Access