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The long-term plan to ready the Great Highway for climate change

Ocean Beach in the foreground, with the Great American Highway in the background
Maya Ibuki
/
Flickr / Creative Commons
Ocean Beach in the foreground, with the Great American Highway in the background

Closures of the Great Highway are common due to the buildup of windblown sand on the two-mile stretch north of Sloat Boulevard, known as the upper Great Highway.

This has worsened in recent years due to climate change. Further complicating matters are the limitations to when the work can be done. Ocean Beach is home to the Western Snowy Plover, a small shorebird on the endangered species list.

Southbound traffic lanes on the Great Highway between Sloat Boulevard and Lincoln Way will remain closed to vehicles during the work. People who walk and bike are encouraged to use the northbound lanes while crews are on the job, weekdays, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The span of the Great Highway south of Sloat Boulevard has the opposite problem…too little sand. Erosion has eaten away at the road and threatened a water treatment plant. In response, the city designed the Ocean Beach Climate Adaptation Plan.

It includes removing the southern stretch of the highway, building a buried seawall to protect a recycled water facility and a wastewater treatment plant, and building a multi-use public trail with elevated ocean views.

Great Highway traffic will be rerouted between Sloat Boulevard and Skyline Drive during construction of the south ocean beach plan. Work is scheduled to begin in late 20-25.