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City to take immediate steps to protect East Boston, Charlestown from climate change

October 28, 2017

Environment

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Environment

A new report, "Coastal Resilience Solutions For East Boston and Charlestown," outlines near- and long-term strategies to protect vulnerable neighborhoods from flooding.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced today plans to implement new resiliency measures to protect East Boston and Charlestown from current and future flooding as a result of climate change. The measures include elevating a section of Main Street in Charlestown and installing a deployable floodwall across the East Boston Greenway, and are both actions outlined in the City of Boston’s "Coastal Resilience Solutions For East Boston and Charlestown" report, released today.

“Climate change is here. It’s happening now. This year, we saw its effect in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and across our country and world. In Boston, we are seeing more frequent flooding on our waterfront, especially in East Boston and Charlestown,” said Mayor Walsh.  “It’s more important than ever that we work together to make sure our city is ready for the changes ahead.”

The "Coastal Resilience Solutions For East Boston and Charlestown" report advances the work of Climate Ready Boston, the City’s initiative to develop resilient solutions to prepare Boston for the impacts of climate change. The next steps, announced today, will move forward with the following near-term actions outlined in the newly released report:

  • Main Street elevation in Charlestown: 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. 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 will be integrated into the ongoing Rutherford Avenue and Sullivan Square redesign project, currently in design and scheduled to begin construction in 2021.

  • Deployable floodwall across East Boston Greenway: Installation of a seven-foot high deployable flood wall across the Greenway under Sumner Street would block the current 1% annual chance flood, with one foot of freeboard. The project would provide immediate protection to almost 4,300 residents, at least 70 businesses, and critical infrastructure for an estimated cost for design and construction of $100,000. Implementation will include an operational plan for deploying the flood wall in advance of a flood. The East Boston Greenway is owned by the City of Boston and maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department.

For all near- and long-term actions outlined in the City’s "Coastal Resilience Solutions For East Boston and Charlestown" report to protect areas of these neighborhoods from three feet of sea level rise, read the Executive Summary here and Full Report here.

Mayor Walsh will join residents and community members today at the Mario Umana Academy for the first-ever East Boston Climate Summit hosted by the Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) to announce the next steps and release of the report. NOAH was a key stakeholder in creating the report and critical partner in engaging East Boston residents to inform the coastal resiliency solutions.

“We’re pleased to see Mayor Walsh, the City of Boston, and other key community partners take on the threat of sea-level rise and storm surge to protect our vulnerable neighborhood,” said Philip Giffee, Executive Director of NOAH. “We’re eager to move forward together to turn plans into action with budgets and continue working toward a more resilient City for all its residents ahead of the next big storm.”

Over 400 residents from East Boston and Charlestown participated in the design process through meetings, community events, open houses, and an online survey. East Boston and Charlestown residents, businesses, and organizations shared their desire for effective and long-lasting solutions to keep them safe from coastal flooding while also enhancing their neighborhoods.

“We’re pleased to participate in the climate study for the Charlestown Sullivan Square area,”  said John Roche, CEO of the The Flatley Company. “It is reassuring to know that the City is willing to work with private developers on rising tides and the impact they have on neighborhoods. The information that was derived will be beneficial for the neighborhood and our future development planning.”

Climate Ready Boston is implementing the Greenovate Boston 2014 Climate Action Plan Update strategy of integrating climate preparedness into all aspects of city planning, review, and regulation. Imagine Boston 2030, the first city-wide comprehensive plan in 50 years, has as one of its overarching goals to “promote a healthy environment and adapt to climate change.” Climate preparedness is also a leading component in GoBoston 2030 and Resilient Boston.

The Climate Ready Boston report, released in 2016, updated climate projections, assessed Boston’s vulnerabilities to climate change, and recommended city-wide strategies for reducing vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding, more extreme heat, and more intense precipitation. The report identified East Boston and Charlestown as two of the most vulnerable neighborhoods to sea level rise and coastal flooding. Coastal Resilience Solutions For East Boston and Charlestown, the first neighborhood-specific application of the Climate Ready Boston framework, was supported by from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and the Barr Foundation.

"The City of Boston has moved swiftly from comprehensive analysis to developing a solution strategy for key parts of the city that are vulnerable to flooding from climate change. For East Boston and Charlestown, we now have a good model that combines terrific public benefits with flood protection," said Bud Ris, co-chair of the Climate Preparedness Working Group of the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, a partner with the City in the Climate Ready Boston work.

“The Commonwealth and the City of Boston continue to take important steps to improve coastal resiliency, and today’s report advances Climate Ready Boston though community-specific adaptation plans and actions,” said Office of Coastal Zone Management Director Bruce Carlisle. “We look forward to continuing this innovative collaboration with the City to address identified vulnerabilities at the neighborhood level and develop a broader vision for long-term climate resilience.”

The City intends to ensure that all of Boston is climate-ready, and is moving forward with climate resiliency planning in its most flood-prone neighborhoods. In partnership with the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA), the City announced earlier this year the expansion of climate resiliency planning to the Fort Point Channel and the South Boston Waterfront. That work is currently underway. Additionally, the City’s Parks and Recreation and Environment Departments are working to ensure that the Moakely Park Vision Plan will incorporate climate resiliency design to address the threat of coastal flooding and storm surge.

About Climate Ready Boston

Climate Ready Boston is aligned with Imagine Boston 2030, Go Boston 2030, Resilient Boston, and other planning initiatives to ensure that climate adaptation supports the Mayor’s goals for economic growth and social equity across the city.

Climate Ready Boston is led by the City of Boston in partnership with the Green Ribbon Commission and with support from the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and the Barr Foundation.
For more information about Climate Ready Boston, visit: https://www.boston.gov/climate-ready.

Climate Ready Boston Climate Action Plan greenovate

Read the October 2017 report, "Coastal Resilience Solutions for East Boston and Charlestown."

Full Report

executive Summary