Climate Ready Charlestown
This Climate Ready Boston program identified locations in Charlestown that face risks from coastal flooding and sea level rise. In 2017, we developed coastal resilience solutions for Sullivan Square, the Neck and Rutherford Avenue. We are currently leading a study to understand risk and identify near- and long-term solutions for areas of the neighborhood that weren't covered in 2017.
Take action today
Our survey walks through the same feedback questions presented in our first Open House on April 29, 2021. This was the first Open House for the Coastal Resilience Solutions for East Boston and Charlestown project. We want to hear from you on:
- what kind of changes you want to see in your neighborhood waterfront, and
- what your resilience priorities are.
Phase Two (Active now)
There are many ways to get involved in this planning process. We’ve launched a mapping tool where you can show us:
- how you use different places and experience the effects of climate change in Charlestown today, and
- how we can help improve future uses:
The best way to stay up to date on the latest opportunities is to sign up for our newsletter. Throughout the process, we will keep you updated on open houses, online surveys, and much more.
This planning process has three main steps:
- Understand coastal risk in Charlestown.
- Develop a variety of draft solutions that could protect the neighborhood.
- Listen and understand community priorities to inform which solutions are best for Charlestown.
We hope that you will be involved in every step of the way.
Coastal Resilience Solutions
In study of the Phase 1 area (completed in 2017), we worked in partnership with local residents, businesses, and regional partners to find coastal resilience solutions for Sullivan Square, the Neck and Rutherford Avenue.Read the 2017 Report
Proposed near-term actions integrate coastal resilience solutions in existing City of Boston capital projects. The 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.
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:
- views 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. For example, a terraced retaining wall planted with wetland species. The shallow mud flats could be restored to marsh. This would expand 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.
Implementation of Climate Ready Charlestown
1. The Parks Department is leading the redevelopment of Ryan’s Playground which will include significant resilience improvements.
2. The Public Works Department is elevating Main Street in the neighborhood to protect residents from sea level rise and storm surge.
3. A resilient Schrafft’s Center Waterfront.
Build resilienceBuild resilience
Share your story of resilience through the Climate Ready Story Project. Our goal through this project is to uplift the resilience that already exists in Boston.
From hurricanes and blizzards to house fires and flooding, you need to be prepared and ready to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community. Get ready, be safe, and stay healthy by building an emergency kit.
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