Flooded Highway 37 to remain closed, snarling North Bay commuter route

Highway 37 could remain closed due to flooding for another two weeks before the state begins work on a multimillion dollar repair project.|

Highway 37, a major commuter thoroughfare for Sonoma and Marin counties, could remain closed as a result of flooding for another two weeks, a North Bay lawmaker said Friday.

“The commute is already bad enough on Highway 37. Adding flooding on top of this makes this one of the worst commutes in the Bay Area,” State Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, said.

McGuire met with state and local officials Friday at the flood zone, which is in the area of Novato Creek, east of where Highway 37 connects with Highway 101 in Marin County.

McGuire said an estimated 330 million gallons of water has inundated the highway at that location. Caltrans has been using pumps in an effort to drain the water.

McGuire said the flooding was exacerbated by a number of factors, including silt in Novato Creek that has decreased its capacity.

He said a levee along Arroyo Creek also was breached in two places, flooding a pasture that then spilled over onto the highway.

McGuire said Marin County and Caltrans officials will work with the private property owner to repair the levee.

McGuire said the highway where it flooded has sunk 21/2 feet over the years, according to initial surveys. Highway 37 was constructed in stages along marshland. Caltrans’ current plans call for raising a 3,000-section of the highway in both directions by as much as 5 feet to gain clearance over future floods, McGuire said.

He said the earliest the repair work is expected to begin is sometime in March.

Funding for the $8 million to $11 million project will come mainly from Caltrans’ general fund, McGuire said.

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