Flood tunnel plan hits sand trap
A planned $55 million storm water tunnel designed to end chronic
flooding on both sides of the San Francisco-Daly City border might land
directly underneath John Daly Boulevard after the area’s most
prestigious golf club balked at playing host.
The tunnel had been slated to go directly under the county border, with a large span beneath the Olympic Golf Club, home to the 2012 U.S. Open.
“We’re afraid that if the construction schedule slipped, it could interfere with the Open,” said club General Manager Dennis Bouey, adding that the club would reconsider if other options proved infeasible. Although the John Daly Boulevard option would require a longer tunnel, as a public right-of-way, Daly City wouldn’t have to acquire an easement.
San Francisco has been pressuring Daly City for decades to fix its
antiquated storm water system around Lake Merced that every year floods
streets in both cities and contaminates the lake. No flooding was
reported from Thursday’s rains.
“San Francisco taxpayers have spent millions to improve John Muir Drive because of storm water overflow from Daly City,” said Tony Winnicker, spokesman for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, adding that repair work on the street was needed in five of the last seven years.
On Monday, the Daly City Council agreed to spend $32,550 to study John Daly Boulevard as an alternative to the golf club. The tunnel is part of an estimated $92 million storm water repair — the largest public works project in Daly City history, according to Patrick Sweetland, the city’s director of water and wastewater.
Currently, in major downpours, storm water originating in Daly City
overwhelms the antiquated canal and tunnel that carries water into San
Francisco and out to the ocean just south of Fort Funston. The flood
waters spill onto parts of Daly City and San Francisco, sending
contaminants such as metals and oil into the lake.
The proposed project — designed to withstand a very heavy storm that would dump 1,300 cubic feet of rain per second into the basin — includes constructing a new tunnel, upgrading Daly City’s storm water infrastructure and converting the canal to wetlands.
The wetlands proposal, the only facet of the plan San Francisco will help fund, would help augment water levels at the lake.
Construction of the tunnel underneath John Daly Boulevard wouldn’t
completely snarl traffic, said Roxanne Stachon, of RMC Water and
Environment, the consulting firm preparing the $430,000 study on storm
water improvements. She said the tunnel could be inserted from two
points dug into on the road, leaving the rest of the thoroughfare for
The city is set to submit its draft plan in January. Once a plan is set, the city will seek state and federal funds to proceed with the project, Sweetland said.
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