U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein visited Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge Friday morning to kick off a $177 million project to protect the Bay Area from the effects of sea-level rise.
The South San Francisco Bay Shoreline Project is slated to begin next summer and will be completed in about 20 years. Engineers will create coastal levees, pedestrian bridges, tidal marsh habitat and more infrastructure to protect the South Bay from a coastal flood in the next 100 years.
Feinstein said the project was possible because of a private-public partnership, after the Cargill company donated over 40,000 acres of salt ponds and sold additional space to the federal government in 2003.
"When you see those salt ponds turned to wetlands, and when you see an osprey flying over, or this huge osprey nest ... it says we're on our way back," she said. "That's what we need more of."
Federal disaster supplemental funding will provide upfront backing for the project. The state and Santa Clara Valley Water District will then reimburse more than half of the funds.
Voters in all nine Bay Area counties approved a $12 parcel tax in 2016 that will provide local funds for the project through 2037, protecting Sunnyvale, Mountain View, San Jose, Palo Alto and Alviso.
The project includes improvements to walking trails at the refuge, observation platforms, pond breaching and restoration.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state Coastal Conservancy and the Santa Clara Valley Water District will oversee the project, in addition to several other agencies.