October 06, 2009

brightening-up the Rainbow Tunnels

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

In my opinion, decisions about art is best not left to a committee, and I bet that is what Alan S. Hart had in mind just before his retirement as head of the San Francisco District of Highways in 1970.

When Cal-Trans found out that Mr. Hart had just gone ahead and had his crews paint the rainbows without their permission they jumped-up-and-down and raised-a-big-stink, but by that time Mr. Hart was already safely enjoying his retirement.   Cal-Trans announced that they were going to sand-blast the rainbows off, but a huge uproar went up from Marin County residents who almost unanimously wanted the rainbows to stay.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

I can't locate any information saying how many times the rainbows have been given a fresh coat of paint, but as you know, paint fades over time depending on the choice of pigments and exposure to the sun.

Years ago someone got the brilliant idea to "paint it" with colorfast tiles, and someone else had even a more brilliant idea of selling a sponsorship for each tile.   Once again, Cal-Trans jumped-up-and-down and raised-a-big-stink because they theorized that the tiles would loosen over time and start falling on cars.   Hopefully each of the 3,000 people who donated $15 for their sponsored tile got their money back.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

This is not a new photo -- I shot it about a year ago and it appeared not too long ago in the on-line edition of the San Francisco Examiner.

So why, if this is an old photo, does the paint look so fresh and bright? Because I Photoshopped the holy-heck out of it -- that's why...   I think they call it artistic license.   I normally don't take my Photoshopping to such an extreme, but I think I did just about everything to this image that was possible in Photoshop.   It sort of needed something...

Oh by the way, a sane person would never stop here to take a photo.   The first thing that might happen is that you are going to get a ticket for stopping in that area without an actual emergency, and the second thing that is even more likely to happen is you are in great danger of causing a serious accident.   I only stopped because I'm nuts and it was prior to 8AM on a Sunday when traffic was fairly light.   Again -- please do not stop there -- it is extremely dangerous getting back onto the roadway!

click photo for full-size image
photo courtesy Marin Independent Journal

O.k., I'm as old as dirt, so I can remember when they added the second bore in 1954.   Prior to that it was a tight squeeze getting two directions and four lanes of traffic through the original upper bore.

My family would often visit Grandma who lived in Marin (we lived in Pacific Grove down by Monterey) and before we entered the tunnel with the dangerously narrow lanes my mother would usually mutter a short prayer that we would make it through safely in our big yellow 1947 Pontiac.

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Tomate Farcie said...

I remember the picture in the Chronicle. Was it yours?!! Wow, you're famous!!

AphotoAday said...

Hmmm, I know that photo I did so much Photoshopping to was in the on-line Examiner, but yeah, the same guy writes for the Chronicle, and I did give him permission to use it gratis as long I got a credit line, so maybe it WAS my photo -- who knows... I should probably check with the writer (I've forgotten his name right now)

But, guess what -- I did go to high-school with the picture editor of the Chronicle -- Lance Iversen... I wrote him a year or two ago asking him if he was the same Lance and he wrote back confirming it... I didn't know him too well -- he was a year ahead of me although I had one class he was in -- but his sweet old grandmother was on my paper-route -- she used to give me a quarter tip each month...

Me famous? Well, to be perfectly honest I think it's about frigging time! (JK and LOL, as they say)

Tomate Farcie said...

I think it's about frigging time!

Now, I would agree with that!

Rhett Redelings said...

Great photos and information about the tunnel! I never knew about the effort to replace the paint with (sponsored.. ugh) tiles. Thank you. I was thinking the same thing about your safety, actually. I never knew the tunnel when it was just one bore.

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