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New State Grant Gives Big Boost to Hwy. 37 Upgrades

Partners to Replace Tolay Creek Bridge, Restore Marshland
Mark Jones

The California Transportation Commission (CTC) today approved a $50 million grant to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to help MTC, Caltrans and project partners advance transportation and ecological resilience along State Route 37 between Vallejo and Sears Point. This includes restoration of the tidal marsh known as Strip Marsh East in Solano County and replacement of the existing Highway 37 bridge over Tolay Creek  in Sonoma County with a much longer bridge that will promote restoration of the historic San Pablo Baylands adjacent to and north of the highway by allowing more water to flow into and out of the creek channel.

The CTC awarded the grant through its Local Transportation Climate Adaptation Program, which was established last year to make California’s transportation infrastructure more resilient to hazards created by climate change. The restoration of Strip Marsh East, which lies between Highway 37 and San Pablo Bay south of Cullinan Ranch and west of Mare Island, is a nature-based solution to support habitat for threatened and endangered species as well as spur adaptation to flooding and sea-level rise. The Tolay Creek bridge replacement will reduce the highway’s vulnerability to flooding by promoting creation of a wider creek channel.

MTC identified these marshland enhancements as the Bay Area’s top priority for LTCAP funds. Together, these improvements will comprise the first phase of an estimated $430 million project to improve traffic flow along the 10-mile stretch of Highway 37 between Sears Point and Mare Island, introduce transit service between Vallejo and Novato, and reduce flooding along the corridor, as well as restore North Bay marshlands.

“The CTC grant is a big step toward assembling the various funding packages needed to meet the complex near-term and long-term challenges facing Highway 37,” said MTC Chair and Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza. “In addition to improving hydrologic flows and reduce the near-term risk of flooding along the route, we’re also working to fund the addition of carpool lanes in each direction to relieve the bottleneck from Sears Point to Mare Island. The ultimate goal is a comprehensive overhaul of the entire Highway 37 corridor to make it higher, safer, greener and built to withstand rising sea levels for many generations to come.”

MTC and Caltrans are members of the Resilient State Route 37 Program, which also includes the Napa Valley Transportation Authority, the Solano Transportation Authority, the Sonoma County Transportation Authority, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit Authority (SMART) and the Transportation Authority of Marin. The partners are working together to deliver near- and long-term improvements to the Highway 37 corridor.

MTC and Caltrans District 4 earlier this year expanded the partnership through an agreement with the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), the California Natural Resources Agency, the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to integrate state leadership and resource agencies into the planning and delivery of multi-benefit projects in the Highway 37 corridor that will reduce transportation inequities; incorporate bicycle, pedestrian, transit and carpool options for travelers; and support time-sensitive baylands restoration.

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