Devil's Slide, that crazy-dangerous half-mile of Highway 1 south of the city that had a habit of both washing away and causing occasional deaths, reopens Thursday as the Devil's Slide Trail, a 1.3-mile pedestrian and bike path. The trail curves along the same cliffside as the former highway and now includes a bunch of benches, three overlooks, and "an array of interpretive panels detailing the area's history, geology, flora and fauna," as the Chron reports.
The highway between Pacifica and Montara was redirected over the last couple of years through an inland, twin-bore tunnel, which opened last year. But now thrill-seekers and fans of strolls that induce vertigo can walk the cliff's edge, which was the scene of dozens of auto accidents and deaths over its 8 decades as a highway, as well as 9 major landslides, including one the year after it was first completed, in 1938. The most recent was in 2006.
It was also the scene of a horrible murder-suicide in 1967 involving a mother and her two children; a tragic incident in 1997 when a man and wife plunged off the road in their van, with the man being ejected safely about halfway down. But when a passing motorist tried to offer assistance, he tussled with him saying, "I have to save my wife," and plunged off the cliff himself, to his death.
As far back as the 1980s, activists and local politicians argued over whether to build an inland bypass, which would have filled in much of the existing trail with rock, or to construct the more costly tunnel. The tunnel plan ultimately won out, but much like the Bay Bridge, it would still take way too long to be completed. That's how we like things in California: nice and slow.