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No New Measures Planned To Prevent Drivers From Entering Sunset Tunnel

Photo: adribluestar/Twitter
By Saul Sugarman - Published on January 27, 2017.

N-Judah riders have already suffered their fair share of delays in 2017 thanks to wayward drivers who try to make it through the Muni-only Sunset Tunnel. Two attempts to cross the dark corridor have gone down just this month.

Thankfully, no one has been injured in the past seven years, but for now, the SFMTA has no plans to remedy the problem. Agency spokesman Paul Rose said efforts made this past year — including the installation of speed bumps and “DO NOT ENTER” signs at either end of the tunnel — should be enough to deter confused drivers.

“It’s a situation we’ll continue to monitor and make adjustments to in order to prevent and minimize the impacts of cars being stuck in or outside the tunnel,” Rose said.

He noted there have been approximately 24 attempts to cross the tunnel since 2010. In addition to the signs and bumps, gates on either end remain closed when Muni is not in service.

Dennis Roybal, president of the Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, believes the problem is “more of a nuisance” than a serious issue.

“It doesn’t matter how many signs you put up. If someone is driving under the influence, they’re still going to try to drive through the tunnel,” Roybal said. “We’re at a point where Muni has done just about as much as they can do.”

He added he felt “really, really pleased” with how Muni officials responded to the latest driver’s attempt to cross the Sunset Tunnel, which happened on January 25th.

The driver made it about 350 feet past the paved side of the Duboce side of the tunnel at about 8pm, Roybal said.

“Instead of stopping, she figured she would go for it and make it to the other end,” he said. “[Muni personnel] drove a train into the tunnel, towed the vehicle out, and restored service in about an hour. They have some kind of a response plan in place when something like this happens, and that’s really the most important thing.”

Rose said this problem typically occurs with the Sunset Tunnel, but we’ve spotted issues with the West Portal tunnel, too. Rose said there are also signs and bumps there, but could not comment further on possible remedies.

“That intersection [at West Portal] is the definition of shitshow,” said one tipster, Brenda. “You can go down two roads or the Muni tunnel — right at the start there, it is difficult to see that it's not for cars, especially if you've never been there, it's dark, or you have poor vision.”

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