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Caltrans: Rising Waters From Climate Change Will Endanger Bay Area Freeways

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A new Caltrans study released Wednesday revealed the havoc rising water levels in the San Francisco Bay caused by climate change could create on Bay Area roadways.

It is the first of 12 studies Caltrans will conduct -- one for each of its regions -- as the transportation agency begins to plan for the future impact of climate change.

"Climate change poses an immediate and growing threat to California, and Caltrans is being proactive in determining what this means for the state's transportation system," said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. "This study and those that will follow intend to provide data to support the discussion about how climate change impacts the way we plan, design, build, operate and maintain the state highway system."

READ: Read The Caltrans Climate Change Impact Study For The Bay Area For Yourself

When researchers combined a typical winter storm surge on the San Francisco Bay with high tides and a 1 meter rise in the water level caused by climate change, the results were a picture of future transportation chaos.

Interactive Map Of Impact Of Rising Waters

The Oakland approach to the Bay Bridge is flooded as is Highway 101 near Candlestick Point. Both sides of the approach to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge would be covered with water as would much of Highway 37 in the North Bay.

Highway 101 south of the Corte Madera Creek Bridge would be impassable as would the roads around the Wornum Drive Bridge.

The study also found that "future extreme precipitation events will likely contain more rainfall and thus increase flood damage potential."

Officials said the findings revealed that "Caltrans programs including policies, planning, design, operations and maintenance, should be redesigned to include the consideration of long-term climate risks."

"Uncertainties inherent in climate data should be accounted for by adopting a climate scenario-based decision-making process, which involves considering the full range of climate predictions."

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