Construction of a setback levee has already caught the attention of daily commuters on California State Route 37 north of San Francisco. But most drivers probably don't realize that the project, spearheaded by Ducks Unlimited, is keeping their tires out of the tides.
The levee will protect a seemingly innocent but highly dangerous .7-mile curve along Route 37 (also known as Sears Point Drive) from tidal flooding. One of the main challenges for DU and its partners—the California Department of Fish and Game and the California Department of Transportation—was coordinating and adapting designs to minimize the inconvenience to drivers while maintaining safety standards. All perspectives were taken into consideration to produce the final plan.
The levee is part of the first phase of the Cullinan Ranch Project, which will restore a 1,579-acre tidal marsh, providing important habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds and other wildlife. The ranch is located in the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which is part of the larger San Francisco Bay ecosystem.
"State Route 37 is a vital connection in the North Bay Area," said DU regional biologist Dr. Renee Spenst. "At the same time, it's next to a wildlife-rich tidal marsh—the Cullinan Ranch—which provides amazing habitat, especially for migratory waterfowl."
This portion of the Cullinan Ranch Project is expected to be completed in December 2012. In the meantime, levee construction is also benefitting the local economy by providing much-needed jobs.