The Yerba Buena Tunnel, also known as the Yerba Buena Island Tunnel, is a highway tunnel in San Francisco, California. It is the part of San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge complex that crosses Yerba Buena Island. The Yerba Buena Tunnel carries ten lanes of Interstate 80 (I-80) on two decks, connecting the two component spans of the Bay Bridge, the western suspension span and the eastern self-anchored suspension span. At the opening of the Bay Bridge in 1936, it was the world's largest-bore tunnel.

Preliminary surveys to lay out the route of the planned Bay Bridge were held in April 1931.[1] Dedication ceremonies were held on February 24, 1932,[2] and by April 1932, the final design for the Bay Bridge, including the single-bore tunnel through Yerba Buena Island, had been completed and submitted for approval.[3] The contract to build the Yerba Buena Cable Anchorage, Tunnel & Viaduct segment was opened for bids on March 28, 1933, and awarded to the low bidder, Clinton Construction Company of California, for $1,821,129.50 (equivalent to $30.8 million in 2021[4]).[5][6] Yerba Buena Island was the main site of the official groundbreaking for the Bay Bridge on July 9, 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt remotely set off a dynamite blast on the eastern side of the island at 12:58 p.m. local time.[7][8] Former President Herbert Hoover and Governor James Rolph were onsite; the two men were the first to turn over the earth with ceremonial golden spades.[9] Other ceremonies took place simultaneously in San Francisco (on Rincon Hill) and Oakland Harbor.[7][10]

The Yerba Buena Tunnel opened, along with the rest of the Bay Bridge, on November 12, 1936. As of 2019,[update] the tunnel lacks an official name.[11]


On January 30, 2016, a chunk of concrete the size of an automobile tire fell from the tunnel wall into the slow lane of eastbound traffic on the lower deck of the Yerba Buena Tunnel, causing a minor accident. The concrete fell from where the upper deck is connected to the tunnel wall. Based on an examination of photographs, a professor from Georgia Tech postulated that water infiltration into the concrete wall had caused the reinforcing steel to corrode and expand, forcing a chunk of the tunnel wall out.[12] A subsequent California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) investigation identified 12 spots on both sides of the tunnel wall in the lower deck space showed signs of corrosion-induced damage, but no immediate risk of further spalling. The apparent cause was rainwater leaking from upper deck drains. Caltrans engineers speculated the Masonite pads had swelled due to rainwater infiltration, cracking the tunnel walls and allowing moisture in to the reinforcing steel.[13]

Repairs to the degraded concrete started in February 2017. Drains and catch basins were replaced to reduce the likelihood of clogging, and fiberglass-reinforced mortar was used to patch removed concrete. The repairs, which required some daytime lane closures, were expected to last until June 2017.[14]

^ "Trans-Bay Bridge Nearing Reality". Healdsburg Tribune. April 28, 1931. Retrieved December 20, 2017. ^ "Impressive Ceremonies Mark Official Start of Work on Transbay Bridge" (PDF). California Highways and Public Works. Vol. 10, no. 2. California Department of Public Works. February 1932. pp. 22–23, 39. Retrieved December 20, 2017. ^ "General Final Plan Accepted for the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge" (PDF). California Highways and Public Works. Vol. 10, no. 4. California Department of Public Works. April 1932. pp. 22–23, 42. Retrieved December 20, 2017. ^ Johnston, Louis; Williamson, Samuel H. (2023). "What Was the U.S. GDP Then?". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved January 1, 2023. United States Gross Domestic Product deflator figures follow the Measuring Worth series. ^ Cite error: The named reference CHPW-193509 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). ^ "Savings of Over $9,000,000 Shown in San Francisco—Oakland Bridge Bids" (PDF). California Highways and Public Works. Vol. 11, no. 4. California Department of Public Works. April 1933. pp. 4, 15. Retrieved December 20, 2017. ^ a b "Three fetes mark start of Bay Bridge". Healdsburg Tribune, Enterprise and Scimitar. July 13, 1933. Retrieved December 20, 2017. ^ "Huge Monolith Rises from Bay Waters to Bear Bridge Tower" (PDF). California Highways and Public Works. Vol. 11, no. 12. California Department of Public Works. December 1933. pp. 14–15. Retrieved December 20, 2017. ^ Purcell, C.H. (July–August 1933). "Governor Rolph, Breaking Ground for Bay Bridge, Puts Hundreds to Work" (PDF). California Highways and Public Works. Vol. 11, no. 7–8. California Department of Public Works. pp. 2–3, 12–13, 26. Retrieved December 20, 2017. ^ "President Expected to Assist in Bay Bridge Ceremony" (PDF). California Highways and Public Works. Vol. 11, no. 5. California Department of Public Works. May 1933. p. 6. Retrieved December 20, 2017. ^ 2019 Named Freeways, Highways, Structures and Other Appurtenances in California (PDF) (Report). California Department of Transportation. 2020. Retrieved May 31, 2021. ^ Van Derbeken, Jaxon (February 6, 2016). "New Bay Bridge corrosion probe: Concrete chunk falls in tunnel". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 21, 2017. ^ Van Derbeken, Jaxon (February 21, 2016). "More damage found to concrete wall in Bay Bridge tunnel". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 21, 2017. ^ Cabanatuan, Michael (March 19, 2017). "Daytime lane closures for Bay Bridge tunnel repairs". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
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