Digital upgrade coming for vintage San Francisco Broadway Tunnel vents

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerThe Broadway Tunnel will be getting upgraded fans to replace their outdated technology.

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerThe Broadway Tunnel will be getting upgraded fans to replace their outdated technology.

The fans providing fresh air for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists moving through the Broadway Tunnel are so old, spare parts no longer exist to fix them when something goes wrong — and the devices monitoring the carbon monoxide levels in the passageway are out of service.

That is expected to change in October, when The City’s Department of Public Works replaces the 60-year-old tunnel’s vintage ventilation with a $1 million digital carbon monoxide monitor. The Broadway Tunnel connects North Beach with Russian Hill.

A spike in carbon monoxide, one of the chief pollutants in automobile exhaust, has not caused the tunnel to close down in recent years, according to Rachel Gordon, a spokeswoman for Public Works. Work crews cleaning the tunnel or working on the roadway take advantage of the ventilation fans, whose mission is aided by modern vehicles’ cleaner exhaust systems and the fresh air blowing in on either end of the passageway, Gordon said.

Plans for the project are due in June, and work is scheduled to begin in October. It is unclear how long construction will take, but the tunnel will not be closed to motorists during construction, Gordon said.

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