Friday, November 22, 2013

New Irvington Tunnel Roadheaders Get Well-Deserved Break

They worked an average of 20 hours a day, 5 days a week for two and a half years; grinding away at rock hundreds  of feet underground. And now, they’re finally getting the rest they deserve.

The three road headers that helped excavate the New Irvington Tunnel were removed from the tunnel last month after we holed through from tunnel headings and they are now out in the fresh air and resting after completing the excavation of the three and half mile-long tunnel.  The largest of the group is a Mitsui Miike which weighs in at 57 tons. The two Antraquip roadheaders each weigh 36 tons. 

What lies ahead for our three tunnel veterans? All three machines could be refurbished for use at future jobs. 

While the workhorses await their future fate, work continues to complete the New Irvington Tunnel. Crews will begin installing the steel lining soon. The entire project is expected to be complete in 2015.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Join Us at the Sunol Cowboy Hootenanny Folk Festival this Saturday

This past weekend, for the second year in a row, the Sunol Regional Outreach Team participated in the East Bay Regional Park District’s Sunol Cowboy Hootenanny Folk Festival at the Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness Park! The event celebrates folk and pioneer history in the Sunol Valley with live music, vintage arts and crafts, square dancing, horse rides, food and more.

We really enjoyed sharing photos of our agency’s long history in the Sunol Valley. A clear favorite among booth visitors was a display of 20 million year-old fossils unearthed during construction of the Calaveras Dam Replacement Project. Many visitors already knew a great deal about our current efforts to upgrade the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System for future generations and about the Alameda Creek Watershed. Let’s see how much you know!

Below is a sampling of questions to test your own knowledge. Don’t peek at the answers!

1. What did the average house cost when the San Antonio Pump Station was built in 1965?

2. Who was the original designer of the first Calaveras Dam?

3. Currently, miners in the New Irvington Tunnel use a handheld gas detector encased in rubberized armor with ultra-bright LED alarms to detect dangerous gases. What did miners use in the existing Irvington Tunnel?

At the festival we tested attendees’ knowledge of local water system history along with some historical trivia.


1. Answer: $14,000. We recently completed work to upgrade it and make it more reliable in case of an earthquake, because it is the literal and figurative heart of our water conveyance system in the Sunol Valley.

2. Answer: The original Calaveras Dam was built by California’s most famous water engineer, William Mulholland. In 1913 Mulholland supervised construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which brought the water from Owens Valley that enabled Los Angeles to grow into the nation’s second-largest metropolis.

3. Answer: A Canary. Canaries were once regularly used in tunneling and mining as an
early warning system. The phrase "canary in a coal mine" is frequently used to refer to a person or thing which serves as an early warning of a coming crisis.
View of the Sunol Water Temple from 1922.