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E5: San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection, San Francisco Bay to Middlefield Road—Palo Alto

Preferred project: A federal-state-local partnership

This project will complete construction of setback levees and floodwalls from San Francisco Bay to Highway 101 to provide 100-year flood protection and ecosystem benefits. Upstream of Highway 101 the project will provide 1% flood protection, ecosystem protection and recreational benefits.

The work upstream of Highway 101 will remedy channel constrictions and modify bridges at Newell Road and Pope/Chaucer Street, and include; a combination of: modified bridges at University Avenue and Middlefield Road, upstream detention, under-ground bypass channels, and floodwalls. The project is sponsored by the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, of which the District is a member agency, in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The project builds on the planning and design tasks initiated as part of the Clean, Safe Creeks plan, which are on track to be completed.

The local-state-funding-only project will be the same as the preferred project downstream of Highway 101; but upstream of Highway 101, the project will remedy channel constrictions and modify bridges at Newell Road and Pope/Chaucer Street to allow the channel to contain flood waters equal to the channel's capacity of 7,000 cubic feet per second, approximately a 30-year event. Allowing this level of water to flow through the channel will protect approximately 3,000 parcels in Palo Alto from a flood event close to the February 1998 flood, the largest on record. Currently the channel can only convey a 15-year flood event.

If sufficient funding becomes available, a 1% (100-year) flood protection project upstream of Highway 101, including some combination of: modifications to University Avenue and Middlefield Road bridges; upstream detention; underground bypass channels; and floodwalls, could be built.


  • Provides 1% flood protection for approximately 3,000 homes and businesses in Palo Alto
  • Reduces bank erosion and sedimentation-related impacts along San Francisquito Creek
  • Improves water quality
  • Enhances recreational opportunities for the community
  • Leverages dollars via cost-shares and grants from the State Department of Water Resources and the California Department of Transportation

Project Status

(As of February 2017)

  • Bay to Highway 101 reach
    The SFCJPA received the Section 401 Certification from the Regional Water Quality Control Board. The District and the SFCJPA are in discussion with the Army Corps of Engineers, which has received the Biological Opinions from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service on the Section 404 permit and with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Streambed Alteration Agreement. Plans and specifications were completed in February 2016. Bids for construction were received in April 2016 and the contract was awarded in June 2016. Construction began in summer 2016 and will continue for approximately two and a half years.

  • Upstream of Highway 101 reach
    The SFCJPA is currently coordinating with the Corps to prepare an integrated CEQA/NEPA document which will serve as the Corps' Feasibility Report. The Feasibility Report will consider channel widening, bridge replacement, floodwalls, bypass culverts, and a detention basin. Final designs for the Pope/Chaucer Street bridge will be based on the Feasibility Report which is scheduled to be completed in Fall 2017. The CEQA/NEPA process includes multiple opportunities for the community to provide comments and feedback about the combination of alternatives under analysis. Final designs for the Newell Road bridge will be completed by the City of Palo Alto in 2017.
  • Attend one of three public scoping meetings to provide your input on the proposed flood protection improvements:

    Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017 at 6:30 p.m.
    Laurel School Upper Campus
    275 Elliott Drive, Menlo Park, CA
    *This is a joint meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is preparing a similar federal environmental document.

    Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 at 7 p.m.
    East Palo Alto City Hall, Community Room
    2415 University Avenue, East Palo Alto, CA

    Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017 at 7 p.m.
    Palo Alto Art Center Auditorium
    1313 Newell Road, Palo Alto, CA
    *Please note, this date has changed from prior notices. 

    Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at 7 p.m.
    Menlo Park City Council Chambers
    701 Laurel Street, Menlo Park, CA

    For more information, view the neighborhood mailer or visit the SFCJPA website.

In addition, the project is working with Caltrans to complete a cooperation agreement that will allow channel widening at the upstream bridge face of West Bayshore Road to be included in the Caltrans Highway 101 Bridge replacement project.

Key Performance Indicators

On June 10, 2014, the Board conducted a public hearing on the modification to the San Francisquito Creek Flood Protection Project. Below is the modified text of the preferred project with state and local funding:

The work upstream of Highway 101 would remedy channel constrictions and modify bridges at Newell Road and Pope/Chaucer Street, and include; a combination of: modified bridges at University Avenue and Middlefield Road, upstream detention, underground bypass channels, and floodwalls.

  1. Preferred project with federal and local funding: Protect more than 3,000 parcels by providing 1 percent flood protection.

  2. With state and local funding only: Protect approximately 3,000 parcels from flooding (100-year protection downstream of Highway 101, and approximately 30-year protection upstream of Highway 101).


Priority E-200

Project Information

Project Finish Through
FY 2018
Safe Clean Water
Program funding

$47.2 M**

(2015 Dollars)

**More financial information: 5-Year Implementation Plan, pages: 19-27
Status On Target

Pope-Chaucer Bridge th

Pope/Chaucer Street Bridge Replacement Project

Project Fact Sheets

For more information: