South Bay - Dumbarton Bridge

This BARC-led project, though not part of the Resilient by Design: Bay Area Challenge, received a state SB1 planning grant to perform a phased adaptation strategy of the South Bay’s Dumbarton Bridge West Approach, as well as the surrounding communities of East Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

View the final Dumbarton Bridge West Approach + Adjacent Communities Resilience Study Technical Report

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) received an SB1 Adaptation Planning Grant from Caltrans, and provided matching funds, to conduct a detailed sea level rise and flooding analysis for the Dumbarton Bridge West Approach and the impacted areas of the cities of East Palo Alto and Menlo Park. The final report, which was completed in June 2020, is available here.

Through this analysis, local stakeholders, property owners and asset managers better understand the near and longer-term impacts to the community, infrastructure, and ecosystems due to flooding and sea level rise. The project team includes local community-based organizations Nuestra Casa and Acterra who are helping to increase the capacity of a cohort of East Palo Alto community members to understand, discuss and problem solve climate change adaptation and related environmental issues in their community.

Nuestra Casa, with support from Acterra, held a series of 3-4 training sessions, with approximately 45 community members, modelled after their successful “Parent Academy”. The Academy allows for local residents to break out into cultural affinity groups over a series of meetings for presentation and discussion of environmental topics. Educational content may focus on sea level rise flood maps, potential community benefits of the Dumbarton Bridge alternatives, and other environmental issues prioritized by Nuestra Casa and the community (for example, air quality, water quality, access to trails and open space).

This project is seen as an important first phase of work in identifying needed adaptation measures to prepare the Dumbarton Bridge West Approach area for increased flooding and sea level rise, leveraging new modelling (incorporating recent flood protection improvements) that helps in understanding flood flow paths. A key deliverable is the development of a climate adaptation implementation plan for the project area that identifies potentially viable near-term and long-term adaptation strategies, while coordinating with and leveraging existing studies and projects that have been completed for the area. Major projects in the area include the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority and their SAFER Bay project.

Adaptation Complexities Spur Planning Innovation

A June 2020 Estuary News article highlighted the Dumbarton Bridge West Approach project and San Mateo County's efforts to take on rising seas through an innovative Flood and Sea Level Rise Resiliency District.