Annie Nunan, who has lived in Millbrae for more than 40 years, was selected to be one of the first to drive through the Devil's Slide tunnel on Monday her 1978 Rolls Royce.
“I am thrilled beyond words,” she wrote upon her acceptance to the Tunnel Opening Day Celebration Vehicle Parade Committee head, Mitch Reid, a member of Citizens Alliance for the Tunnel Solution (CATS). “I just heard Don Horsley of the Board of Supervisors on NPR the other night explaining all that went into this huge project so this is an honor and such a surprise."
Nunan said she immediately submitted an application when the postings for the parade went up a year ago for cars from the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s.
“Going through the tunnel is going to be a thrill,” Nunan said. “I’m from France; nothing really happens like this in France. This really is the land of opportunity. It used to be nothing but turns to get home – many people went over the cliff – so this is a much needed tunnel.”
Bob La Mar of Half Moon Bay was also selected to drive through the tunnel on Monday in his 1939 Cadillac.
“While I will dearly miss the magnificent vistas provided by the present Highway 1 between Pacifica and Montara, the opportunity to be among the first automobiles to travel through the new Devil’s Slide tunnel is an exciting honor," he said.
After eight years of construction and delays, the Devil's Slide tunnels — named the Tom Lantos Tunnels after the late congressman — will open on Monday, March 25, with an invite-only Tunnel Opening Day Celebration from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., highlighting 100 years of automobiles.
The Tunnel Opening Day Celebration Vehicle Parade Committee chose 35 vehicles from 50 applications received from around San Mateo County. Criteria for selection included the uniqueness of the vehicle, whether it was an alternative energy vehicle and if the applicant was somehow related to the 1995Measure T campaign to fund construction of a tunnel.
Reid said the parade will also highlight alternative energy, displaying a Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt. The final car of the parade will be Scott Boyd of Montara’s 2013 Tesla S.
“Our hope was to get 1914 electric car, but it wasn’t in good enough running shape,” said Reid, who has been part of efforts to build the tunnels for the past 17 years. “We wanted to highlight the fact that in 1913 there were a lot of electric car companies.”
Other cars in the parade will include 1913 Ford Model T Touring Car from the California Automobile Museum, Half Moon Bay’s Mavericks Jeff Clark in a 1949 Dodge Woodie, and Half Moon Bay’s Blue Bird Bus/Bookmobile.
Other Coastsiders in the parade include Bob Pelikan of El Granada in his 1931 Buick Victoria and Michele Husak and her husband, George Yatrakis, will drive their 1973 VW "Thing" with their children Daphne, 7, and Aris, 4, in the backseat.
On Tunnel Opening Day, drivers and their cars at 10 a.m. will be led by a Pacifica Police car in consecutive order onto Highway 1 and drive to the North Tunnels and park on the 1,000-foot long bridge in front of the portals. There they will wait for about an hour on the bridge during speeches and a ribbon cutting at the South Portal. After this, they will drive south through the Tom Lantos Tunnels for the parade.
By 1 p.m. the vehicles will then merge with the help from the CHP onto Highway 1 and drive south to their final destination: the San Mateo Harbor at Princeton. There the vehicles will park in consecutive order at the reserved beachfront parking area where the media is expected to take pictures and interview the drivers. The public will not be able to drive through the tunnels until several hours after the ribbon cutting and vehicle parade, when they officially open, weather permitting.
“’The People's Tunnel,’ as Congressman Tom Lantos called it, represents a huge environmental success made possible by the grassroots effort of hundreds of volunteers from the coast and San Mateo County,” said Reid. “This is the last chapter of a 40-year battle against the Devil's Slide Bypass Highway that would have cut a 750-foot V cut right through Montara Mountain and would have devastated our coast. Big thanks to all that helped make this Tunnel a reality, and saved Montara Mountain.”
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