Video: Caltrans punches-through on Devil’s Slide tunnel

By on Fri, October 1, 2010

Barry Parr
On October 1, 2010, Caltrans invited community members to see the punch-through from the south to the north entrance of the tunnel. This was followed by local officials greeting tunnel workers at the north entrance. We'll post more photos shortly.

Thank you so much for filming this! It’s been a long time coming, and I am so glad to have seen it. Better than being there!

YESSSSSS!!!!!! It’s been far too long in coming. Thank you so much for making the rest of us feel a part of this crucial moment.

Cool. It is interesting that the hill is made of drywall, though. It seems like it should have happened quicker - the digging that is -  considering what they had to dig through. That does not look like a rocky hillside,.

Yeah, the surface they punched through was totally faked-up and this was strictly a pseudo event that was put on for the TV cameras (and ours as well). That’s why I opened with a shot of the cameras.

It actually took a lot longer than the video indicates. There was about 15 minutes of grinding on the other side of the wall before they punched through. I have no idea what took them so long.

Having said that, it was kind of dramatic and satisfying. Despite the phoniness of the punch-through, these ceremonies serve a social purpose.

I’ve got about an hour and half of video if someone wants to get it from me on a DVD and do whatever processing is required to put it online somewhere.  Then everyone can listen to all the speechifying, some of which was actually good.  You can also watch (well, listen to!) the whole boring 10-15 minutes of grinding noises before they poked through.  BTW, the drywall remark may be funny, but I figure it had to be shotcrete.

What was the background music?  (Which you can’t really hear in this clip.)  It had to be from some movie involving tunneling.  I thought Stalag 17, but someone else said “The Great Escape.”

Another song they played was apparently “You’re the one.”  Punny.

Definitely the theme from The Great Escape. The familiar part kicks in at about 0:25 on this clip.

I asked the head engineer about how thick the remaining rock the machine was digging through - he indicated that it was about a foot or so.  There appeared to be a concrete type material applied to the rock surface the audience was looking at.  My guess is it was to keep rocks and dust from being launched into the observers. 

CalTrans went to a great deal of effort to make this a successful ‘event’.  I was impressed by how much care and thought went into it.  It was impressive to talk to some of the folks who had worked on the construction side - it was an international crew. 

You can see a photographic record of the project at: 



Regarding the music, the Caltrans Public Information person saw the comments here and emailed the following to me:

I saw a few people on the Coastsider site discussing the music I chose for the event.  You’re right, “The Great Escape” theme was one of them.  The other two selections were from the movie “Dave,” starring Kevin Kline.

BTW, one of the speakers at the start was to play a recording of “Break On Through (To the Other Side)” but there there was equipment failure.

Comment 9
Sun, October 3, 2010 6:20pm
Rob Carey
All my comments

Here’s a video of the Devil’s Slide Tunnel breakthrough 10/1/10 from a wide perspective:—Devils-Slide-Tunnel-Breakthrough-768x.html