Facebook goes underground

25 August 2011

The amount of tunnelling work underway or in planning for the state of California is nearly baffling. San Francisco is seeing a lot of water conveyance projects, as well as public transport. LA is working on transport projects. Plus the California High Speed Rail Authority has been working like a Trojan to move forward with its first lines, and tunnels can be expected in several locations across the network. And that’s just to name a few.

A much, much smaller tunnel is being planned—though many an online teen may argue it fills a need in their lives as important as clean drinking water—by social media giant Facebook. Architectural plans released by the City of Menlo Park, California, earlier this month for Facebook’s offices call for a pedestrian tunnel built under the Bayfront Expressway.

The plans show a tunnel 32ft wide by 10.5ft tall (9.75m by 3.2m) accommodating a people mover, bike lanes and a pedestrian walkway to connect the east and west campuses. See the attached image for cross section and a map. The east campus is 57-acres, and the west campus another 22-acres.

My guess is that this will be a cut and cover project. The plans call for at least one exit to be moved or introduced on the Expressway going to the west campus so road construction is inevitable.

The city received an application on behalf of Facebook to start the environmental review process. On Tuesday the Menlo Park City Council will weigh in on an overview of the proposed public outreach and development agreement negotiation process.

Facebook’s schedule for the project calls for completion of land use entitlements for the east campus by June 2012. An updated target date for the draft EIR and draft FIA are expected in October.

Tunnel sections and map

Rolls of conveyor belt ready to be installed on San Francisco's Bay Tunnel project Rolls of conveyor belt ready to be installed on San Francisco's Bay Tunnel project