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By Rep. Mike Levin
Roads, rails, and sidewalks connect our neighborhoods and enable freedom of movement throughout South Orange County. Unfortunately for our coastal community, erosion presents a growing threat to the safety of our people and the structural integrity of our crucial transportation infrastructure.
Over the past several decades, our beaches and bluffs have been placed under enormous stress due to sea-level rise and other environmental factors. The results of these forces are entirely predictable: weakened roads that threaten safety, and damaged rail lines that shut down service and isolate communities.
As your congressman for South Orange County, I’m committed to securing federal dollars that will support local infrastructure projects and fight coastal erosion.
Toward that end, I am pleased with the inclusion of more than $22 million in House appropriations legislation for nine local projects, including $9.3 million to begin construction on the San Clemente Shoreline Project.
This project provides protection for the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor (LOSSAN Corridor) tracks that run immediately adjacent to the San Clemente coast. It will add 251,000 cubic yards of sand, widening the beach by about 50 feet, creating a better, safer coast for residents and a stronger economy for all.
Another appropriations victory for South Orange County is $1.87 million for the Doheny Village Connectivity Improvement Project in Dana Point. Much of this funding will support the addition of bicycle and pedestrian amenities, ensuring equitable access for travelers of all modes and means.
According to U.S. Geological Survey scientists, Southern California sea levels are projected to rise between 1.5 feet and 6.6 feet by 2100. Moreover, blufftops along the 300-mile Southern California coastline could lose between 62 and 135 feet on average by 2100. In many areas, the losses could be even worse.
Everyone who drives on PCH or rides the train along our coast knows that we don’t have that kind of room to spare. That’s why I’m committed to seeking both immediate and long-term solutions to this challenge.
Make no mistake, this funding will provide a critical lifeline to local projects that need help now. But with rising sea levels and more frequent extreme weather events, much more work will need to be done.
That is why I was proud to lead a letter signed by 133 of my Congressional colleagues calling on President Biden to ensure infrastructure legislation includes robust investments to combat the climate crisis.
Our hard-working residents deserve reliable infrastructure without the threat of road failure or bluff collapse. I’m committed to fighting coastal erosion through both immediate and long-term solutions, so future generations can enjoy the economic opportunities and beautiful landscapes our coast has to offer.
U.S. Representative Mike Levin represents the 49th Congressional District, which includes the South Orange County cities of Dana Point, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano. He was reelected for a second term in 2020 and resides in San Juan Capistrano with his wife and two children.