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SR 37 Will Be Raised By 30 Ft. to Combat Future Floods

Tue September 19, 2023 - West Edition #20

(Caltrans photo)
(Caltrans photo)

California's efforts to ensure the long-term resiliency of State Route 37 (SR 37) and San Pablo Bay received a significant boost with the infusion of $155 million in federal funding. The California Transportation Commission formally allocated the funds to elevate a key section of State Route 37 to guard against future flooding on a vital regional corridor that connects Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties and enhance habitat connectivity for San Pablo Bay. The $180 million project will raise the roadway by 30 ft. over Novato Creek by 2029, well above the projected year 2130 sea-level rise.

The $155 million allocation comes from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and is lauded by environmental groups and local leaders who have been calling for investments to support the long-term viability of the SR 37.

"This is a critical Bay Area transportation corridor and current projections are that it will be under water as soon as 2050 unless we act," said Tony Tavares, Caltrans director. "State and federal investments are coming at a critical time for California as we design climate-resilient projects like this to protect residents from flooding and the impacts of extreme weather events."

The funding builds on a partnership agreement forged earlier this year among state and local agencies on a suite of commitments to implement near-term improvements to SR 37 while pursuing a long-term climate-resilient corridor that reestablishes habitat connectivity across San Pablo Bay.

"Powered by historic state and federal infrastructure investments, California is leading the nation in rebuilding our transportation system to make it more resilient to the impacts of climate change — with Highway 37 at the forefront of those efforts," said Toks Omishakin, California transportation secretary. "Working with federal, state and local partners, we will continue to collaborate on solutions that will help this vital corridor, the communities it connects and its surrounding ecosystems thrive for generations to come."

"We need to improve Highway 37 to make it safe for people as waters rise in the coming decades and to restore habitat connectivity across San Pablo Bay," said Wade Crowfoot, secretary of California Natural Resources Agency. "This project, made possible through partnerships and this federal funding, is an important step forward. It will build climate resilience, improve the safety of the roadway for people who use it and reconnect habitat across the baylands. It's part of our work across the state to make sure critical infrastructure continues to function amidst climate change impacts."

"We have fought hard to make these projects a reality and we couldn't be more excited to start moving dirt and getting these infrastructure projects built," said State Sen. Mike McGuire. "We're grateful to Caltrans, the Transportation Authority of Marin and the California Transportation Commission for the amazing partnership. This is happening because of the teamwork."

"This is an important step toward maintaining the viability of Highway 37 in the face of increasing traffic congestion and the effects of climate change," said Sen. Bill Dodd [whose district includes the eastern portion of the highway]. "I look forward to partnering with Caltrans and Sen. McGuire as we continue to build on these and other improvements."

The influx of federal funding is on top of California's multiyear infrastructure investments in transit and intercity rail projects, safe walking and biking options and upgrades to the state's economy-powering supply chain.

"I'm very excited about this project," said Dina El-Tawansy, Caltrans District 4 director. "Not only will it mitigate the persistent flooding issues on State Route 37 between U.S. 101 and Atherton Ave., but it also shows Caltrans' deep commitment to working with our partners and stakeholders to find and implement the right solutions for the entire corridor."

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