Subscribe

Highway 37 could be fully underwater as soon as 2040

California State Route 37, the major throughway that bridges the divide between Highway 101 and Interstate 80 and serves thousands of drivers daily in the North Bay, is in dire straits.

A recent dispatch from the California Department of Transportation warns that nearly the entire route — spanning Novato to Vallejo — could be "permanently submerged" as soon as 2040 by increasing weather crises and rising sea levels caused by climate change.

Its proximity to the San Pablo Bay makes this route especially vulnerable. The marshlands in the bay, while vital for preventing flooding, are in a precarious state, with a 285-foot-wide levee only being breached in 2015, after the area had been drained and used as farmland for decades. The marshlands in that area still require decades to fully establish.

If left unchanged, the effects will be severe, Caltrans warns. Alternate roads will be clogged up, worsening traffic on other Bay Area highways. Caltrans also warns that "economic loss and reduced opportunity" for Solano County residents could be major impacts.

Already, the impacts of rising sea levels are evident on the highway, with closures popping up more and more in recent years.

Caltrans and affected Bay Area counties have worked over the past decade to shore up Highway 37, with multiple studies conducted and crews working to raise pavement on the highway. Another one, called the Planning and Environmental Linkages (PEL) study, is set to begin this month and is expected to be the most comprehensive look into the corridor.

But state Assemblymember Marc Levine told KQED in 2019 that studying Route 37 without much direct action may not be enough.

"We can't pat ourselves on the back on these Band-Aids and quick fixes; we need to think a little bit bigger and think for the future," he told KQED.

A virtual public hearing is scheduled for Jan. 25 on Zoom to discuss Route 37's future and to present further on the PEL study. More information can be found on the Caltrans website.

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

The Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Sonoma County Gazette