Officials gathered last week in Foster City for the groundbreaking of the landmark levee improvement project that will protect the community from storm and flood hazards, reinforce the levee against earthquake damage and improve the popular levee trail.
“We are so proud and happy to see this project get underway, and extremely grateful to the people of Foster City for funding this work through 2018’s Measure P,” said Mayor Catherine Mahanpour in a statement. “This is an investment that is really going to pay immeasurable dividends — assuring the well-being and safety of our community in the near-term, and for generations to come.”
Measure P, the $90 million general obligation bond for the project, was overwhelmingly approved by voters that year.
The largest public works project in the city’s history became necessary after the Federal Emergency Management Agency placed the Bayfront city into the flood zone because its existing levee system would no longer protect the community from a 100-year flood and needed to be raised.
After FEMA released the new flood map, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission required the city to raise the levee 2 feet taller than what FEMA originally mandated.
Construction is expected to last three years — completion is scheduled for fall of 2023 — and impacts are inevitable. Residents should expect regular traffic delays, an increase in noise and dust levels, hauling of dirt, heavy equipment operating and levee trail closures.
“We know this construction is going to be disruptive, but city staff and the contractor are dedicated to minimizing the inconveniences,” said Interim City Manager Dante Hall. “The end result will be worth it, and I have confidence that our community understands that.”
Initial work along the levee trail from about Port Royal Avenue to Shorebird Park/Halibut Street will begin on Oct. 28. Starting then, 2 1/2 miles of levee trail in the area will be closed for at least 10 to 12 months for safety reasons. Pedestrian and bicycle detours and signs will be in place.
Work hours for the project are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.
Significant amounts of dirt will be hauled to the construction staging area near Sea Cloud Park beginning with two eight- to 10-day stages. The first stage began the week of Oct. 19 and the second in mid-November, each with an estimated 40-60 trucks per day. To ensure the safety of those accessing the fields, there will be a buffer between the parking area, pedestrians and trucks entering the staging area.
In addition to raising the levee, the project includes redevelopment and widening of the levee Bay Trail and construction of two bridges to increase tidal circulation to enhance the O’Neill Slough in the southern segment of the project site.
Following the passage of Measure P, all property owners — residential, office and commercial — saw their tax rates increase about $41 per $100,000 of assessed property value, with the average property owner paying about $270 more a year in taxes. If the measure didn’t pass, then property owners with federally backed mortgages would be required to purchase thousands of dollars of flood insurance every year.