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A New Plan For a Safer Dam

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Original Title:
Statehouse Gives Okay to Bolster Folsom Dam Flood Control

With the widespread flooding of New Orleans very much in everyone's consciousness, state legislators have approved a measure that would raise Folsom Dam and build a permanent bridge to replace the road atop it.

Senate Bill 347 gives necessary legislative approval for California to commence working with federal government, regional and local agencies to construct a bridge downstream of Folsom Dam. Security concerns have kept the once highly traveled road across the dam closed since shortly after September 11, 2001.

The bill, authored by Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, includes $9 million in state funding toward the estimated $66 million cost of the new bridge.

Citing traffic congestion and economic loss, the city of Folsom has sought to have Folsom Dam Road reopened. In May the federal government proposed granting limited road access to cars and motorcycles during the morning and evening commute hours. The plan would require the city to first pay $6.2 million for security, then wait as much as six months for the road to re-open. The road would be closed during heightened terror alerts and if reservoir water rises above a certain level. It would be closed permanently when the new bridge is completed.

SB 347 also authorizes the state to participate in ongoing efforts to raise the level of Folsom Dam. Increasing the dam height by seven feet would provide another 95,000 acre feet of water storage during spring runoff and help protect the Sacramento region from flooding.

"Sacramento is one of the nation's urban areas most at risk of massive flooding," said Ortiz, urging passage of the bill. "The tragedy we all saw when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the southern gulf brings home only too clearly the tremendous risk we face and the need to shore up our flood control protection."

SB 347 now heads to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for final approval or veto.

(This story was provided by News10 KXTV Sacramento.)

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