The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency [SFMTA] announced in its weekly weekend traffic update on Thursday that once again the Twin Peaks Tunnel will close to train traffic to facilitate upgrade and repair work.
But before rail commuters break out in hives, rest assured that unlike last summer’s long-term tunnel shutdown—for which Muni is still paying a heavy price in public relations—these closures are supposed to be brief overnight affairs that only cut into a few hours of commute time.
According to the announcement, “West Portal and Forest Hill stations will be closed at approximately 11 p.m. on Friday [December 21] and will reopen on Saturday at 9 a.m.,” and then will close again the same time on Saturday December 22 and reopen Sunday morning.
A second round of closures on the same nights and the same schedule is set for the following weekend as well. Muni will replace lost train service during these hours with bus service, which is supposed to run every 20 minutes or so.
The weekend closures are some of the last steps in a $40-million plan to refurbish the 100-year-old tunnel.
Among other things, the upgrade is supposed to make Muni service faster. According to the SFMTA project site: “Twin Peaks Tunnel is currently under a speed restriction, which slows down trains as they travel through. Replacing the tracks will lift the tunnel’s speed restriction and keep trains running reliably through the system.”
The emphasis on speed is now a potentially better pill, given that last summer’s 60-day service suspension coupled with a driver shortage to send Muni service into limbo.
The tunnel project also engendered tragedy when a contractor died while making repairs in August.