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Twin Peaks tunnel reopens Saturday [Updated]

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Muni train service set to resume, and not a moment too soon

Update, August 24: At least Muni is running on time with this one.

In a Friday press release, the SFMTA announced that it has completed the overhaul of the Twin Peaks tunnel on schedule and that light rail service on the M, L, and K lines beyond Castro Station will be restored on Saturday, August 25.

The news comes not a moment too soon for most Muni users and presumably also for the SFMTA itself, which blames the tunnel project for it summer full of blown schedules and MIA buses.

The project also cast a pall over the entire department after the death of a tunnel contractor on August 10. 51-year-old signal technician Patrick Ricketts died after a temporary support beam fell on him.

In the aftermath of the accident City Hall discovered that the contractor, Shimmick Construction, had not disclosed some of its previous accidents and safety violations when vying for the contract, and SFMTA did not sufficiently scrutinize Shimmick’s record to find the violations themselves.

Although most of the tunnel work is done, the department also warned Friday that at an undetermined time “later this fall,” West Portal, Forest Hill, Castro and Church stations will experience some overnight weekend construction and close between midnight and 8 a.m. on two separate nights.

As reported in May, SFMTA will close down the Twin Peaks Tunnel for 60 days starting today, the latest round in an ongoing $40 million plan to refurbish the 100-year-old subterranean byway.

That means that from now through late August there will be no Muni train service between Castro Station and West Portal.

Instead, shuttle buses will fill in for suspended trains.

According to the SFMTA:

During the closure, Forest Hill and West Portal stations will be closed, the K Ingleside will travel on a shortened route, and bus service will run for the L Taraval and M Ocean View lines.

[...] During weekday morning rush hour (6 a.m.-10 a.m.), Muni customers transferring from M buses or K trains to BART at Balboa Park can receive a free BART single-ride ticket, good for travel downtown through Embarcadero BART Station.

Only S Shuttles and T Third trains will operate underground through Castro and Church stations.

Muni promises more frequent L, S, J, and T service during the period. Riders looking for bus substitutions for their usual light rail route can consult the guide here.

The city originally scheduled tunnel construction for last year, first in the spring and then in the summer; however, after several false starts, SFMTA eventually cancelled 2017 plans altogether, citing “contract termination” with the company originally hired out to do the work.

Opened in February of 1918, the city credits the 2.25 mile Twin Peaks tunnel with transporting some 80,000 riders a day. The present overhaul, now set to conclude in 2019, includes “a full track replacement, replacement of the tunnel drainage system, new fire suppression system at West Portal station, and seismic upgrades.”