In Wake Of Multiple Driver Incidents, Changes On The Way For Sunset Tunnel

In Wake Of Multiple Driver Incidents, Changes On The Way For Sunset Tunnel
Photos: Teresa Hammerl/Hoodline
By Saul Sugarman - Published on February 01, 2017.

It's only a month into 2017, but four vehicles have already gotten stuck in Muni's Sunset Tunnel, with the most recent incident occurring last night

Last week, the SFMTA told us that they weren't planning any additional changes to the tunnel, which received new speed bumps and bright “DO NOT ENTER” signs last year.

But last night's incident appears to have been the last straw. Today, the agency sent a work crew to paint additional markings on the road, with the goal of preventing more drivers from entering the tunnel and disrupting N-Judah service. 

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose also told us that the agency plans to install additional speed bumps at the tunnel entrance this week, and is "assessing [its] current lighting, signage, traffic measures and public education tools to develop more next steps to address this issue."

New paint markings on the street. 

Given the number of incidents this month, many readers expressed interest in whether drivers are fined for entering the tunnel—and if so, how much.

California vehicle code states that driving on light rail tracks is illegal, but an SFPD spokesperson explained that fees and fines are decided by a case-by-case basis. First and foremost, he said, police evaluate the driver to see if they are intoxicated or otherwise impaired. They also take into account whether or not the driver is from the area, and the weather and time of day. 

"Sometimes, based on the road conditions, it’s very difficult to see, especially at night with our recent wet, rainy weather," he said. "It all depends on the driver situation."

Based on officers' evaluations of the situation, the "person might be cited, might be arrested, might be directed safely out of the tunnel," the spokesperson said.

More fresh paint near the tunnel.

Given the spate of recent incidents, Hoodline readers have shared a number of ideas about how to improve the situation.

One commenters suggested "barriers like those at railroad crossings, that only rise when a metro car is nearby." Another asked, "how about painting the cement red, with bold bright letters saying DO NOT ENTER?"

A third commenter took a different approach: "Why fight it? Share the road. Make it official. Smooth out the tracks, add lane markings, and let folks drive through it already."

Relive this month's Sunset Tunnel news: