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Tunnels are Simple, Just Avoid the Faults

Relief may be just around the corner (ok, 25 years away) for commuters making the trek from Orange County to Riverside County and vice-versa. Plans to relieve the freeway congestion are being discussed, including the potential to construct the world's second longest tunnel under the Santa Ana Mountains.

Critics, however, question the logic of building a multibillion-dollar project they dub the "terrible tunnel" in a region so prone to earthquakes that an alternate proposal for a double-decker highway was deemed too dangerous. The tunnel would begin barely a mile from a fault that has produced a 6.0-magnitude earthquake. "It's absolutely absurd to have a tunnel 700 feet below ground in earthquake country," said Cathryn DeYoung, mayor of Laguna Niguel and a vocal opponent. "I mean, would you want to be in that tunnel?"

Plans being discussed include a four- or six-lane road progressing 15 miles through the mountains, with 11 miles in the form of a tunnel. The tunnel would avoid faults, planners say, citing the success of tunnel building in Europe as a model for what's proposed here. The results of an 18 month, $15 million dollar study on the proposed tunnel and other alternatives will be announced on November 18th. Tunnel enthusiasts, scrape the dirt out of your ears and pay attention.
· SoCal traffic nightmare drives plans for earthquake-country tunnel []