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The Grand Bayway

The Team

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

Common Ground is comprised of landscape architects, urban designers, architects, scientists, artists, educators, economists, community organizers, academics, ecologists, and civil, hydrological, geotechnical, and structural engineers.

Their common cause is an urgent sense of our collective task: they must quickly formulate an approach to sea level rise that is investigative, experimental, adaptive, socially responsible, and sustainable.

Members include TLS Landscape Architecture, the Exploratorium, Guy Nordenson & Assoc, Michael Maltzan Arch, HR&A Advisors, Sitelab Urban Studio, Lotus Water, Rana Creek, Dr. John Oliver, Richard Hindle (UC Berkeley), and Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Background

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

Typical of San Francisco Bay in general, San Pablo Bay is structured by parallel rocky, fault-generated ridges and soft alluvial lands between them where water collects and flows.

This zone is facing decades, if not centuries, of both coastal flooding and seismic liquefaction of soft ground. One is incremental by nature, the other instantaneous. But current settlements in California are only 150 years old. We have a very short and rather unprepared track record. Flat and compliant, shoreline marshes and mud flats have historically been an easy place to construct infrastructure including highways, railroads, airports, and refineries. These lands are also the home for many people, including some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods in the Bay Area who frequently have no voice in their own future. Shoreline communities and infrastructure are at the front line of sea level rise and seismic challenges throughout the Bay Area and around the entire Pacific Rim.

This project is about adapting behavior and infrastructure within these fertile and biologically diverse lands that are frequently degraded by marginal human uses and unstable fill. City and regional leaders need a plan, not just for how to patch flooding problems, but for how to grow their cities along their shorelines by putting much more focus on people, habitat and healthy connections with the Bay.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Proposal

  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 13 Climate Action

The Grand Bayway proposal resolves the transportation issues on Highway 37 by designing a scenic elevated causeway and allowing tidal flows and marsh migration to return to a natural condition.

The causeway is designed with the same ambition and flair as other iconic bay crossings but is based on 21st century sensibilities for the natural environment and diverse transit types, not just vehicles. Rather than broad concrete platforms on a forest of columns, this design curves to open views over the Bay and marshes and is oriented to natural landmarks. Lane directions as well as the Bay Trail are “unspooled” and flow independently like the sloughs they traverse, creating access to open space below. This level of investment in design and visibility for an ecological “Central Park” will return major value for the region, its identity, and its future.

A great mobility loop will encompass the open space, comprised of pedestrian and bike routes collocated with an excursion train using an existing freight line. Visitors will arrive at a variety of historic train stop ghost towns such as Buchli and Wingo, revived for cultural education using the narratives of those who have lived with these lands in the past. The huge baylands complex is of course inextricably linked to the resolution of the highway. To prepare for rising sea levels, the project proposes the creation of an ecological laboratory. Streams and diked sloughs will strategically and incrementally re-engage sediment deposits and cultivate biodiversity though various means including “sediment trains,” hyper-accretion gardens, and floating wetlands.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge

Next Steps

Resilient by Design
  • 03 Good Health and Well-being
  • 06 Clean Water and Sanitation
  • 09 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities

This project is far-ranging and ambitious, as it should be.

Therefore, it will not be a simple matter of organizing funding and moving directly to permitting and construction. The first step will be to set up a task force involving key stakeholders to establish a fundamental set of agreed goals and criteria for moving forward. It will be important to find areas of common ground and agreement between the environmental community and local transportation advocates. When the program is fully in place and agreed upon, support from State and local agencies will be needed. The Bay Area Council for a Joint Powers Authority will be in charge of moving the overall project forward into permitting and CEQA review and the rest of the sequence toward construction. There should be a significant first phase – involving both ecological and transportation features - that will be a powerful credential for the mission and principles of the project and ability of this JPA to deliver.

The team also plans to enact a “room for the river” project in collaboration with the Sonoma Land Trust and others. This will generate some relief for landowners in the area south of Schellville who are dealing with constant flooding and lack of levee maintenance. This and other “bottom up” type projects and interventions will let the community know that tangible results are already being realized and therefore further efforts are worthy of their involvement.

Source: Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge