NOVATO (KPIX) – Repair crews were working around-the-clock to remove floodwater and clear the roadway, but there was still no word from Caltrans on when the westbound lanes of Highway 37 will reopen.
Meantime, the detour has caused severe traffic delays.
The problems started on Thursday when strong storms and heavy rains battered the North Bay causing a levee near the Highway 37 to give way. Flood waters filled nearby fields, eventually coming up over the westbound lanes of Highway 37.
Heavy equipment operators were bringing in hundreds of tons of boulders and dirt to build a makeshift dam near the roadway.
“So we’ve got westbound 37 closed. We’re hoping to get it opened some time this week but we’re still not sure,” said Sgt. Ross Ingels of the California Highway Patrol.
While work continues to clear Highway 37 of floodwater, drivers are trying to work their way around it.
“About 10 extra minutes, something like that,” said one driver, waiting as a California Highway Patrol officer directed traffic off the highway.
The detour on Atherton Avenue was often a 15-minute crawl through the southern end of Novato.
“This is a county road that is definitely not used to freeway level traffic and speeds that come with it. These people are used to commuting on a highway and now they’re commuting through a neighborhood,” explained Sgt. Ingels. “We’ve got extra units out here making sure it’s all done safely.”
Back on Highway 37 it is around-the-clock work.
On the southern side of the roadway crews are doing levee repairs, pumping water out of the hole left by the debris that has been used to plug the break. On the north side of the highway it’s the job of getting water off the roadway.
Crews were lining the roadway with k-rails, draping them with plastic, and sealing the wall with dirt. Then, highway scrapers are used to throw the water out of the secured roadway.
Caltrans is hopeful the work could be done as soon as Tuesday.