THE BERNAL CUT: A BUILT ENVIRONMENT

The road to climate change has been paved with good intentions and The Bernal Cut is no exception. City leaders first created it in 1863 to create a safe and efficient railroad between San Francisco and San Jose. The quarter mile long passageway was cut 35 feet down into the hillside and 25 feet wide making way for a passenger train service between the two cities that took 3.5 hours instead of 8 hours by steamboat and stagecoach.

By 1930, the Cut was widened to 117 ft. The “Cut” was widened to 117 feet across to accommodate four car lanes, two railway lines and two electric streetcar tracks, and it was renamed Bernal Avenue.

1955 brought the I-280 freeway - and the Cut became a major thoroughfare for cars traveling between San Francisco and what would become Silicon Valley. Today, the road running through the Bernal Cut is called San Jose Avenue, and at peak commute times almost 2,000 cars per hour use it to enter the city.

 

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