City’s $2M flood-protection project ready for winter

Public works crews are putting the finishing touches on a structure at the south end of Marina Lagoon that will help protect nearby neighborhoods from storm-related flooding.

The concrete structure, which supports the lagoon’s tidal gates, had deteriorated to the point where it was at risk of failing completely, according to Public Works Director Larry Patterson. After $2 million and nearly a year’s construction, the new structure is ready for the coming winter storms.

Replacing the south structure was one of three projects in recent years to help regulate tidal activity between Marina Lagoon and the Bay. The other two, the construction of levee walls for San Mateo Creek and repairs to a pump station, have already been completed.

Although all three reduce the flood risk for residents in the Mariner’s Island and Shoreview-Parkside areas, they don’t yet remove those areas from Federal Emergency Management Agency-identified flood zones, where residents are still required to pay flood insurance.

“This may help residents feel secure that their homes won’t get flooded, but it doesn’t do anything about the flood insurance,” said City Council member Brandt Grotte. “FEMA doesn’t seem to recognize improvements in one particular area.”

Residents have already seen signs that city improvements can pay off, however.

The roads near Dave Sharp’s home in the Shoreview-Parkside Neighborhood used to flood each time there was a heavy rain, but city crews replaced an outdated storm drain with a larger one three years ago, significantly reducing flood waters.

“It used to be that the total intersection would be underwater and it would come up to our doors,” Sharp said. “Now it doesn’t go over the curb anymore.”

City officials have sent FEMA a proposal for how they will fix flood-protection structures throughout the city. Although FEMA was scheduled to respond to that proposal in late August, federal officials asked for more time, delaying the response until late November at the earliest.

In the meantime, San Mateo is looking at ways to raise $20.5 million for storm improvements required by the FEMA, or $73 million to prepare the entire city for a 100-year storm.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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