The Bay Area highway most exposed to sea level rise

An interactive article in the San Francisco Chronicle today highlights the North Bay's State Route 37, perhaps the stretch of highway in the Bay Area most threatened by rising sea levels. SR 37 is bellwether for the costly and complex issues the region will face as sea level rise, combined with high tides, already threatens to flood the roadways and nearby farms. With 3 feet of sea level rise, a scenario considered by scientists to be "likely" by the end of the century, SR 37 could be underwater for much of the year.

The article summarizes the coalition of stakeholders, including BARC and its member agencies, working to advance adaptation solutions for SR 37. A proposed solution is to build an elevated causeway paralleling the existing highway that would protect from 66 inches of sea level rise, allow for improved habitat connectivity and marsh restoration, and create bike and pedestrian access. This concept was advanced further through a public access study conducted as part of BARC's Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge.

"The threat posed to transportation systems along the bay underscores a larger dilemma faced by the region in adapting to climate change. Assuming that sea level rise projections hold, the trade-offs will get more difficult as 2100 approaches," states the article.

"We’re ahead of most regions when it comes to studying the potential impacts and grappling with how to respond. At some point, though, individual efforts won’t be enough," the article continues. "What will be needed is a strong, focused strategy pursued across the region. None of this is easy. All of it will be costly. But a response at this scale is critical — and it cannot happen soon enough."

SF Chronicle: The Bay Area highway most exposed to sea level rise