Caldecott Tunnel Approach Roads – Oakland CA

City:
Oakland, CA

Site Type:
Infrastructure and Utilities, Roads, Bridges, and Tunnels

New Deal Agencies:
Public Works Funding, Public Works Administration (PWA)

Started:
1934

Completed:
1937

Contractor:
Six Companies

Quality of Information:
Moderate

Marked:
Yes

Site Survival:
Partially Extant

Description

The original two-bore Caldecott Tunnel was built with the aid of the Public Works Administration (PWA). Out of a total cost of $4 million, the PWA provided $1.1 million, the state $700,000 and the highway district $2.3 million in bonds, which were repaid from gas tax revenues (Oakland Tribune 1937). 

Plans for the tunnel had long been in the works as automobiles began to replace trolleys after World War I.  A Joint Highway District was created in 1929 to undertake the project and money was sought from the federal government from the outset of the New Deal.  Once PWA funding was secured, construction began in mid-1934 and was completed in 1937.

As part of the project – then known as the Upper Broadway Low Tunnel – Broadway was extended up the canyon from where it once met Chabot Road. This part is commonly known as Upper Broadway.  In 1937, the Landvale Bridge was built over  Upper Broadway and new on-off ramps were added on both sides of the approach. The bridge connected Tunnel Road in Berkeley with Mountain Boulevard in the Montclair District of Oakland, via Landvale Road.

Landvale Road south of the bridge was routed between Lake Temescal and the PG&E Claremont Substation.  A retaining wall was built on the east side to support the substation and another was constructed on the west side to hold up Landvale Road itself.  

In addition, the Sacramento Northern interurban train line had to be moved slightly west toward Lake Temescal, beneath the Landvale Road support wall. An old wooden railway bridge over an eastern arm of Lake Temescal was filled in to allow both the railway below and the road above to pass over.  

Construction of the original tunnel was carried out by the “Six Companies” joint venture, led by Oakland’s Bechtel Corporation and Kaiser Engineers, who had built Hoover Dam.  Presumably, they also built the approach roads and bridges, though this needs confirmation.

The entire highway system and canyon landscape west of the Caldecott Tunnel has been massively reengineered over the years.  The old Upper Broadway approach road was superceded by State Highway 24 (former Grove-Shafter Freeway) in the 1960s.  Some part of it survives, however, along the south side of the freeway, as can be seen in the 1934 overpass that still takes Upper Broadway over Golden Gate Avenue.  Some of the roadway above the bridge, where it hugs the hillside and passes Lake Temescal Park, is probably original, too.

The Landvale Bridge was removed in 1964 when the freeway was extended to the Caldocott Tunnel and Landvale Road was superseded by the Warren freeway (State Highway 13), which was built south through Montclair in stages, c 1950-1960.  Nevertheless, traces of Landvale Road still exist.  A piece of Landvale Road runs below the PG&E substation, where it dead-ends, and the old sidewalks and the two massive retaining walls are still there.  One wall, covered in grafitti, lies above the road and the other wall still sits beneath the remnant Landvale Road.  The latter has massive, angled support struts (which may mark the south end of the old Landvale Bridge).  These loom over the old train route (now a bicycle path), which takes off from the northeastern corner of Lake Temescal Park.

Another piece  of former Landvale Road can be seen where Highway 13 passes over Broadway Terrace.  Parts of the underpass are of the same design as the old road (and the abutments for the former Sacramento Northern are still in place, too).  Broadway Terrace was widened and lowered to pass under the old road and there are still date stamps from 1936 in the concrete pavement as it descends on the west side. 

A third portion of Landvale Road remains at the south entrance of Lake Temescal Park, which passes through a tunnel built to carry a connector from Landvale Road to Broadway Terrace (which still serves as the exit from Highway 13).  The style and age of the tunnel’s concrete match that of other remnants, though the date painted on the tunnel is too faint to read.  Further confirmation is needed.

 

 

Source notes

"New Broadway Tunnel is given state approval," Oakland Tribune, December 1, 1937.

"Broadway Tunnel joins two northern California counties," The Architect and Engineer, January 1938, pp. 52-53

https://www.eastbayhillsproject.org/all-roads-lead-temescal-final-configuration-late-1930s.

https://localwiki.org/oakland/Landvale_Bridge

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Temescal

 

Site originally submitted by Richard A Walker on April 22, 2021.

Location Info


near Lake Temescal
Oakland, CA 94618
Alameda County

Location notes: pin dropped at Longvale Road remnant

Coordinates: 37.8478, -122.234

At this Location:

Site Details

Federal CostTotal Cost
$1,095,000.00 $4,000,000.00

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