Climate Ready Charlestown
This Climate Ready Boston initiative focuses on Charlestown locations that face current and growing risks from coastal flooding and sea level rise. We've identified short- and long-term solutions to protect the neighborhood.
For our latest study, we worked in partnership with local residents, businesses, and regional partners to find coastal resilience solutions for Sullivan Square, the Neck, and Rutherford Avenue. See key takeaways from our community open house in July.
This image shows different ideas for Charlestown's waterfront. The ideas are long-term projects that would protect and support a thriving neighborhood. All images are courtesy of Kleinfelder-Stoss.Read the Report
Proposed near-term actions integrate coastal resilience solutions in existing City of Boston capital projects and create a new waterfront open space and flood protection system through private redevelopment.
Elevating Main Street by an average of two feet in front of the Schrafft’s Center driveway would block the main flood pathway through Charlestown up to a 1% annual chance flood with nine inches of sea level rise (2030s), plus 1 foot of freeboard. Achieving a higher flood protection level would not be feasible unless the existing fire station at the intersection of Medford Street and Main Street were redesigned or relocated.
This would protect over 250 residents, at least 60 businesses, first responder facilities, and the Rutherford Avenue underpass. The estimated cost for design and construction is $2-3 million. The roadway elevation could be integrated in the ongoing Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square redesign project, currently in design and scheduled to begin construction in 2021.
One option is to raise Main Street so that the centerline meets the target flood protection elevation.
Ryan Playground’s low-lying waterfront playing fields, seating, dugouts, and lighting systems would be vulnerable to damage in the 1% annual chance flood with nine inches of sea level rise (2030s). Raising these low areas to meet the surrounding grade would prevent damages in the near-term and make it easier and less costly to further elevate in the future. Additional long-term measures along the park’s waterfront would prevent the park from becoming a flood pathway in a 1% annual chance flood with 36 inches of sea level rise (2070s). The estimated cost for design and construction is $300,000-500,000. This solution could be included as part of the park’s next scheduled renovation, likely by 2025.
Redevelopment of the Schrafft’s Center waterfront with elevated parks, nature-based features, and mixed-use buildings could bring value to residents, providing new opportunities for recreation, social activities, mobility, and commerce, while also restoring natural resources in the Harbor.
It would also reinforce and extend flood protection provided by elevating Main Street, protecting about 330 residents, at least 60 businesses, drainage and combined sewer systems, first responder facilities, and critical transportation infrastructure, such as Rutherford Avenue and its underpass, from the 1% annual chance coastal flood with nine inches of sea level rise (2030s), plus one foot of freeboard. At this maximum level of protection, from a single event these measures would prevent an estimated $390 million in losses, including over $100 million from Schrafft’s Center itself. The estimated cost for design and construction across the three properties is $28-53 million.
The long-term actions for Ryan Playground would raise the park’s edge to the 1% annual chance flood level with 36 inches of sea level rise (2070s), plus 1 foot of freeboard. This elevation would be met at the top of a raised pathway with vistas of the Lower Mystic River and integrated seating for viewing the playing fields. In areas where space is constrained by lighting and dugouts, the pathway would transition to a seating bench that doubles as a flood wall. The existing seawall at the water's edge could be redesigned to provide a more naturalized shoreline, such as a terraced retaining wall planted with wetland species. The shallow mud flats could be restored to marsh, expanding the habitat created in the shallow areas of the Schrafft’s Center waterfront. The estimated cost for design and construction of this is $3.7-6.1 million.
Full implementation of near- and long-term measures would protect about 1,000 residents, at least 100 businesses, drainage and combined sewer systems, critical transportation infrastructure, and first responder facilities up to the 1% annual chance flood with 21 inches of sea level rise (2050s), plus one foot of freeboard. At this maximum level of protection, from a single event these measures would prevent an estimated $591 million in losses.
The gradations of blue in the map show how the 1% annual chance flood extent changes as sea levels rise. The arrows show the flood entry points and pathways with current sea levels, 9 inches of sea level rise and 36 inches of sea level rise.
Near and long-term coastal resilience solutions in the Charlestown study area.
Proposals requested for South Boston waterfront coastal resiliency planning
Read the citywide climate resilience strategy report with Charlestown as a focus area.
Climate preparedness is one way we’re addressing climate change. Learn about our initiatives to reduce pollution that causes climate change.