SFO plans to surround airport with 10-mile wall to protect against rising bay waters

Concerned that rising waves will flood runways and buildings in the coming years, officials at San Francisco International Airport are moving ahead with a $587 million plan to build a major new sea wall around the entire airport.

The plan, the latest example of the growing cost of climate change in California, involves driving steel pilings — sheets with interlocking edges — into the mud and also constructing concrete walls in some places around all of the airport’s 10-mile perimeter.

“This is something we’ve been looking at for many years,” said Doug Yakel, a spokesman for the airport. “What’s changed is the level of protection that is needed.”

The airport, built in 1927 in a cow pasture at the edge of San Francisco Bay, serves 55 million passengers a year, making it the nation’s seventh busiest. But its runways sit only about 10 feet above sea level.

The runways, terminals and other buildings are protected now by a series of earthen berms and smaller sea walls which the airport built mostly in the 1980s. But they provide only about 3 feet of protection from flooding.

Under the new project, whose fiscal plan was approved by the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 17, the airport will build five more feet of protection.

That should guard against 3 feet of sea level rise, plus another two feet for big waves during storms, airport planners said. And it should protect the airport through 2085, based on the most recent scientific estimates of sea level rise. Researchers project San Francisco Bay’s waters could rise 1 foot in the next 30 years and another 3 feet or more by 2100. Environmental studies are set to begin next fall, Yakel said, with construction starting in 2025.

MILLBRAE, CA – Oct. 8: A jet lands at San Francisco International Airport, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in a view from Burlingame, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

The project will be funded with bonds and paid off through higher fees on airlines that fly in and out of SFO, according to airport officials. With interest on the bonds, the final price tag is estimated at $1.7 billion over 30 years.

Environmental groups, who successfully blocked SFO’s plans 20 years ago to build new runways into the bay, say they don’t have a problem with this project.

“We have no objection to this. The airport can’t be easily

Source:: East Bay – Lifestyle

      

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