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High tides cause flooding on Pacific Coast Highway at Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach, CA, on Tuesday, January 24, 2023. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
High tides cause flooding on Pacific Coast Highway at Bolsa Chica State Beach in Huntington Beach, CA, on Tuesday, January 24, 2023. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Michael Slaten
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Pacific Coast Highway closing during or near the Bolsa Chica wetlands is a common problem for drivers in the area, and Caltrans officials say they are looking to address the flooding problems in the future.

When asked if Caltrans had plans to address the flooding concerns along that stretch of road at a recent Huntington Beach City Council meeting, Caltrans District 12 Asset Manager Bassem Barsoum said officials are working on a plan. Storms earlier this month forced a 93 hour closure of the road in town to traffic.

“The short answer, yes, there’s something coming, in the work, that we are putting together,” Barsoum said.

PCH from Warner Avenue to Seapoint Street had to be closed 12 times last year due to flooding, according to data from Caltrans officials. PCH is a major thoroughfare for the area and serves around 45,000 drivers daily, but during high tides or heavy rain, seawater often ends up flooding the lanes.

Barsoum during the recent meeting pointed to a completed by the agency a few years ago that looked at coastal areas that have the potential to be inundated with water due to climate change.  Caltrans is working on a program – it has some seed money from the state – that would address areas affected by sea level rise, Barsoum said.

“We are working on a plan as we speak,” he said.

Sheilah Fortenberry, a spokesperson for the agency, said in a follow up email that the stretch of PCH is still being analyzed to determine the best long-term solutions, “so further details are not available at this time.” Those solutions, she said, are based on the agency’s climate change vulnerability report.

A found that there is a potential for widespread inundation of large portions of Huntington Harbour and Bolsa Chica by 2100. A recent said climate change is projected to increase the frequency and severity of natural disasters related to flooding, especially when coupled with sea level rise, in the future.

“The combination of these conditions will likely result in increased wave run up, storm surge, and flooding in coastal and near coastal areas,” according to the report.

Sea levels have generally risen along the California coast over the past century, according to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Sea levels in La Jolla and in San Francisco over the last century have risen by about ճ scientists are projecting up to a 66-inch increase in sea levels along segments of the state’s coast by 2100.

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