California SR 37 is known for its limited capacity and location in a sensitive tidal marsh at the north end of San Pablo Bay. While many desire expansion of the facility, it would come at an environmental cost. A Highway 37 Stewardship Study was conducted in 2012, and the findings of that study are encapsulated in the latest SR 37 Transportation Concept Report, which was issued about a year ago, on 1/12/2015: http://hwy37.ucdavis.edu/files/upload/resource/TCR%2037-FINAL-SIGNED.pdf
Since SR 37 connects Novato with Vallejo, it passes through several counties. This report lists the stakeholder agencies as Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM), Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA), and Solano Transportation Authority (STA). SR 37 is described as follows:
SR 37 follows 21 miles along the northern shore of San Pablo Bay linking US 101 in Novato, Marin County with Interstate 80 (I-80) in Vallejo, Solano County. It serves as a vital connection between the eastern and western counties of the northern San Francisco Bay Area, and the Central Valley. It is the northernmost non-mountainous east-west link between US 101 and I-5 (via I-80 and I-505) in the State. From US 101 to the signalized SR 121 intersection at Sears Point, SR 37 is a four-lane expressway. Another signalized intersection is at Lakeville Road. East of Sears Point, it becomes a two-lane conventional highway with a median barrier as it crosses the Napa-Sonoma marshlands. At Mare Island, a four-lane freeway begins. The route continues eastward, mostly on an elevated structure, to its termination at I-80. This segment crosses SR 29 in the City of Vallejo.
The report goes on to discuss specific issues on SR 37 surrounding flooding (sea level rise) and traffic congestion due to the lengthy two-lane segment in the middle of the route:
The most defining issue for Highway 37 is its vulnerability to flooding during heavy storms. Flooding has repeatedly occurred in the past, requiring closure of the roadway. With rising sea levels, flooding events will likely grow more frequent. The concept identifies the two-lane conventional segment between SR 121 (Sears Point) and Mare Island (Vallejo) as a candidate for widening from two to four lanes in order to close the gap between the two four-lane segments on either end. This widening would alleviate the PM eastbound peak hour commute congestion caused by the lane reduction. There is concern that increasing the number of lanes on any facility creates only temporary congestion relief and in the long run will result in additional travel demand. In the case of SR 37, because of the local geography and environment, the lack of population centers and very limited development along the corridor, building out (the middle segment) is not expected to significantly increase demand, and could allow HOV/ transit options to be introduced in the corridor.
The 2012 Highway 37 Stewardship Study (and the 2015 SR 37 Transportation Concept Report) presented five alternatives to address the middle segment's location on wetlands and narrow footprint. They are:
- no expansion
- expanded footprint
- strategic co-alignment
A study that either came out last month (December 2015) or is yet to come will evaluate these options; the study (called State Route 37 Integrated Traffic, Infrastructure and Sea Level Rise Analysis) should be available at http://hwy37.ucdavis.edu/
at some point.
A series of media reports came out in Fall 2015 to discuss options ... some ideas being considered include complete realignment of SR 37 away from the marsh, perhaps by shifting it inland or over the bay. http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/rising-seas-traffic-threaten-highway/article_66cf6eac-c503-5f9f-a55b-3ce5ef7caf83.html
(discusses the SR 37 Stewardship Study and environmental issues with the route)http://www.petaluma360.com/news/4615552-181/plans-to-privatize-hwy-37
(discusses toll potential with public private partnership to construct new facility, as proposed by United Bridge Partners)http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_28864779/highway-37-woes-have-north-bay-counties-joining
(discusses various counties coming together to discuss SR 37 issues)http://napavalleyregister.com/news/local/new-push-to-keep-highway-high-and-dry/article_f3238b05-741b-5bd9-a7c3-663f8c7f8857.html
(pegs cost of causeway at $2.7 billion to $3.1 billion and a levee road expansion at $770 million)
So, we'll see what if anything comes of this discussion.