California Earthquake Alert System Would Cost $80 Million: Officials

Building an early warning earthquake system for California would cost $80 million, officials said Wednesday.

Earthquake experts and officials with California's Office of Emergency announced the cost during a meeting to update the public on their progress to create the system.

"The system is running, it's operational," said Richard Allen of the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory.  "We just need to complete it so the entire state can get a warning."

Officials said the shake-alert system could be implemented in two years if the state and federal government were able to generate funding.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena have been working on the system. They were notified of a Southern California earthquake in March 8 seconds before the shaking began.

Back in the Bay Area, seismologists at the United States Geological Survey in Menlo Park are working with university researchers to improve the early-warning system. The system would send alerts to cell phones, officials said.

NBC Bay Area's Jean Elle contributed to this report.

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