MacArthur Tunnel

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MacArthur Tunnel
West entrance of the MacArthur Tunnel
West entrance of the MacArthur Tunnel
Official namePresidio Tunnel
Other name(s)General Douglas MacArthur Tunnel
LocationSan Francisco, California
Coordinates37°47′34″N 122°28′10″W / 37.79278°N 122.46944°W / 37.79278; -122.46944Coordinates: 37°47′34″N 122°28′10″W / 37.79278°N 122.46944°W / 37.79278; -122.46944
Route SR 1
CrossesPresidio (San Francisco)
Work begunOctober 1938
ConstructedMacco Construction
OpenedApril 21, 1940 (1940-04-21)
OwnerCalifornia Department of Transportation
Vehicles per day69,000 (2000)
Length1,300 feet (400 m)
No. of lanes4
Route map
United States San Francisco Central

The MacArthur Tunnel, formally known as the General Douglas MacArthur Tunnel, is a highway tunnel in San Francisco, California.

It is located within the Presidio of San Francisco, now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

The tunnel carries California State Route 1 under a large hill and under the Presidio Golf Course. It connects Park Presidio Boulevard (Hwy 1) in the Richmond District to US 101 on the Doyle Drive viaduct, and the Golden Gate Bridge.


When the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937, the approach for northbound traffic to Marin County was carried solely by Doyle Drive, from the east. Although a second approach from the south, known as the Funston Avenue approach, was included in the initial plans for the bridge,[1] it was not ready in time for the opening; just a year after opening, traffic over the bridge had doubled by 1938, adding urgency to completing the Funston approach.[2] In March 1936, General Paul Malone made clear the Army's position was the Funston approach would include a tunnel or else it would not approve the planned route through the San Francisco Presidio.[3]

General George S. Simonds, the successor to Gen. Malone, indicated tentative approval of plans for a tunnel for the Funston approach in July 1936,[4] but formal approval of the plans and a permit to begin construction were not signed until August 1938[5] as the plans that had been reviewed – and the accompanying permission to construct on the Presidio – were conceptual up to that point.[6]

The Redwood Empire Association called upon city and Golden Gate Bridge District directors to rename the Funston approach just before it opened in 1940, suggesting possibilities such as "Golden Gate Bridge Parkway," "Golden Gate Bridge-Way," and "Golden Gate Bridge–Redwood Empire-way."[7] The completion of the Funston Avenue approach was celebrated with a two-day gala in April 1940.[8]

Tunnel design and construction[edit]

Aerial photograph of the MacArthur Tunnel

The construction contract for the Funston Avenue approach was awarded in September 1938 to Macco Construction company, who had built the approach for southbound traffic over the Waldo Grade. The Macco contract was awarded at their bid of US$593,042 (equivalent to $10,327,100 in 2017) and included the laying of a concrete tunnel 1,300 feet (400 m) long.[9]

The 1,300-foot (400 m) long tunnel accommodates a 4-lane roadway.[10] A tunnel was required because the land above the tunnel was being used by the Army for a parade ground and golf course, so leaving an open cut for the highway was impossible.[11] It was constructed by a cut-and-cover sequence: excavating along the tunnel route, fitting steel arch forms, pouring concrete on top of the forms, and returning the fill to the top of the cured concrete.[10] Fill removed from the initial excavation was stockpiled near Mountain Lake, which would serve as the southern drainage point for the Funston approach upon its completion, since the Army also required no drainage onto Presidio property.[10][12] Tunnel sections were built in 28-foot (8.5 m) lengths,[11] and work was started from each end of the tunnel, working towards the center, allowing two to three sections of tunnel to be completed per week.[13] The open cut-and-cover method was deemed economical because of the relatively small amount of material that would need to be removed.[11]

During the construction of the tunnel, two tees and one green for the golf course were temporarily relocated, and a footbridge was constructed to allow golfers to cross the open cut.[10]

The tunnel was made as long as possible without having to add forced ventilation to dilute carbon monoxide from automobile exhaust, and a 24-by-24-foot (7.3 by 7.3 m) shaft was built mid-way along the tunnel to provide passive ventilation, with the capacity to add a fan later for forced exhaust through the shaft, if necessary.[10][11] The steel arch forms had previously been used during the construction of the Bartlett Dam in Arizona.[13] Construction of the tunnel began in October 1938 and was complete by January 1940;[13] the Funston Avenue approach was dedicated for service on April 21, 1940.[12]

Dedication gala[edit]

The Funston Avenue approach and the Nineteenth Avenue approach were both dedicated and opened for traffic on April 21, 1940 in themed ceremonies designed to promulgate friendly relations between the Pacific coast states in Canada, Mexico and the United States.[14][15] Citizens from the North Bay and other northern counties were encouraged to participate in the opening ceremonies.[16] Delegates from British Columbia; the states of California, Oregon, and Washington; and the consul general of Mexico all attended and spoke at the dedication ceremonies.[14]

New name[edit]

In 1949, the tunnel was known locally as the Funston Avenue tunnel, taking its name from the approach.[17] Other residents would call it the Park Presidio approach.[18] Caltrans currently has two official names for the tunnel, which is designated 34-0016 under the National Bridge Inventory. The tunnel is known as both the Presidio Tunnel and the General Douglas MacArthur Tunnel,[19] having added the MacArthur tunnel designation by Senate Concurrent Resolution 86, introduced by Milton Marks during the 1985–86 Legislative Session.[20]


The top face of the south entrance to the tunnel is a popular target for graffiti artists due to broken barbed-wire fences.[21] During the 2016 United States presidential campaign, taggers sprayed the words "SF VS TRUMP," only to have the tag changed to "SF [hearts] TRUMP" a few days later.[22]


  1. ^ "Gate Bridge Approaches". Healdsburg Tribune. 26 June 1935. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Traffic on G.G. Bridge Doubled Since Opening". Sausalito News. 6 October 1938. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Snags struck on S.F. road to Gate Bridge". Healdsburg Tribune. 12 March 1936. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Army Consents to Presidio Tunnel For Bridge Entry". Healdsburg Tribune. 30 July 1936. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Formalities for Funston Approach Are Completed". Sausalito News. 25 August 1938. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  6. ^ "No Bridge Outlets Through Presidio Yet Approved". Healdsburg Tribune. 29 January 1937. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  7. ^ "New Name for G.G. Approach Sought". Sausalito News. 4 January 1940. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  8. ^ "Fete bridge approach". Madera Tribune. 20 April 1940. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  9. ^ "First Contract for Funston Approach Work Awarded". Sausalito News. 29 September 1938. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d e Ferneau, T.E. (June 1939). "Work on Presidio Approach to Golden Gate Bridge Speeds Up" (PDF). California Highways and Public Works. Division of Highways, Department of Public Works, State of California. 17 (6): 4–7. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d "Building Highway Tunnel by Open Cut in Presidio" (PDF). California Highways and Public Works. Division of Highways, Department of Public Works, State of California. 17 (9): 21. September 1939. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  12. ^ a b Barrett, Larry (May 1940). "Funston Avenue Approach to Golden Gate Span Open" (PDF). California Highways and Public Works. Division of Highways, Department of Public Works, State of California. 18 (5): 2–3, 14–15. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  13. ^ a b c Skeggs, Jno. H. (March 1940). "Golden Gate Bridge Approach Construction Nears Completion" (PDF). California Highways and Public Works. Division of Highways, Department of Public Works, State of California. 18 (3): 22–24. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  14. ^ a b "Colorful Scenes at Dedication" (PDF). California Highways and Public Works. Division of Highways, Department of Public Works, State of California. 18 (5): 2, 21. May 1940. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  15. ^ "Dedicate new Funston Ave. feeder to bridge". Sausalito News. 18 April 1940. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  16. ^ "Cavalcade from Empire to help open Funston". Healdsburg Tribune. 15 April 1940. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  17. ^ Wallace, Kevin (27 March 1949). "The City's Tunnels: When S.F. Can't Go Over, It Goes Under Its Hills". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  18. ^ Presidio of San Francisco, Doyle Drive and Veterans Highway Exchange, HAER No. CA-2270 (PDF) (Report). p. 131. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  19. ^ 2015 Named Freeways, Highways, Structures and Other Appurtenances in California (PDF) (Report). Caltrans. 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  20. ^ Assembly Committee on Transportation (1986). Summary of Legislation: 1985-86 Legislative Session (Report). p. 16. Retrieved 10 January 2017. SCR 86 (Marks) Designates the tunnel on Park Presidio Boulevard (Route 1) in San Francisco as the General Douglas MacArthur tunnel.
    Resolution Chapter 94 (1986)
  21. ^ Curiel, Jonathan (23 April 2009). "S.F.: Who'll remove Presidio tunnel graffiti?". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  22. ^ Cowboy #1 (28 November 2016). "As Always, "SF VS. TRUMP" - General Douglas MacArthur Tunnel, The Presidio - Or Rather, "SF Hearts Trump?"". San Francisco Citizen [blog]. Retrieved 11 January 2017.

External links[edit]