UMass group studies possible hurricane barrier for Boston

With flooding in the news, WBZ reports that the Sustainable Solutions Lab at UMass Boston (itself right on the water) is looking at the potential of a hurricane barrier that would stretch along the outer waters of Boston Harbor and be activated when a hurricane approached.

A hurricane barrier in the harbor wouldn't do much good if we got a hurricane that came ashore and stayed there, but the city is looking at flooding more generally.



Free tagging: 


Except ...

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For a large project like that, you wouldn't just take the money out of the bank, you'd take out a loan (well, since it'd be a government project, issue bonds), so the yearly cost would be a lot lower. And I'm going to assume it would have to be a state project, partly because it would protect more than just the city of Boston.

$20 billion bond

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Is looking pretty good to Houston about now. I wouldn't be suprised if this storm costs them (and us) $40 billion in the end.

Let the great 2 -year BS parade begin!

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With every storm comes the even larger wave of BS resiliency projects. Did we not learn from Sandy? New England got caught up in the Sandy BS wave. Have you ever seen the "Resilient Bridgeport" junk in Connecticut? A couple of Yale new urbanists; David Waggonner and Alan Plattus; tricked the city out of millions in the name of hurricane resiliency planning. They gave them new urbanist villages instead. Every special interest group is going to swamp every coastal city over the next 2 years, just like Sandy. Boston needs to wade through the BS parade; because these groups just keep on comin'.

BS resiliency projects

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Please explain your emergency management or climate planning qualifications and/or experience with mitigation and adaptation that make you competent to make these statements.

1955 protection isn't finished, but lets build a useless wall

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Houston has terrible flooding in 2015, 2016, and 2017, yet because this recent flood has a hurricane tagged onto it, UMASS comes out with this idea yet again. Dumb. The wall is useless, MA's rivers are a bigger hurricane issue. In 1955, we got Harvey'd by not one but too hurricanes. The rivers swelled, causing destruction across the state. MA's 1955 hurricane flood protection is still incomplete, but UMASS wants to build a completely useless wall for a hurricane that will never hit from the east.

This has been bandied about for years

I wonder if they have any sense of topography in the city and the harbor? They have lines in front of drumlins and hummocks but somehow most of Wollaston, which is very low to the water is left open, yet Squantum, which goes up a few dozen feet looks like it has a barrier in front of it, as does Deer Island and Point Allerton.

The harbor is not as shallow as you think in many places, especially Quincy Bay and around Hull south of President Roads.

We get hurricanes from the south here. This barrier would be a storm surge barrier like the one on the Thames east of London for nor'easters, not like Providence or New Bedford which are geared towards hurricanes. .


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All the plans that I have seen ignore the marshes and rivers on the North and South sides.

These people are thinking "surge" but ignoring obvious paths of "backflow" through the marshes.
That's not the worst problem here. The real problem is the idea that we should spend all our money on a single climate peril for only a small piece of the state. That's almost criminally foolish. Comprehensive statewide planning for development to fight heat and flooding is far more urgent (Houston, ahem), as is upgrading our infrastructure and (particularly) our water, waste water, and electrical grid to be resistant to extreme heat, precipitation, heavy loads, ice, and flooding.

Which is why I'm glad that the state is tackling this in a systematic way during the next round of FEMA hazard planning. Huge sea walls are great ego monuments, but we need to look at the entire problem and determine priorities for funding first.

When was the last major hurricane in Boston?

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When was the last major hurricane in Boston? Despite Global Warming rebranded as "Climate Change" predictions, Harvey was the first "major" hurricane in the UNITED STATES in ten years. Gloria knocked down a few trees in the Northeast in 1985, the first significant hurricane since Agnes in 1972. Not much since. Hurricane Bob, a few sailboats lost after being left at the dock?

It would be cheaper to rebuild if something actually happened, rather than spend tens of billions preparing for something that might not. Weather technology will give plenty of advanced warning for folks to evacuate and any lost property can be replaced. 1938 isn't coming back.

Please cite your scientific qualifications

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Then, give us a consistent theory that explains the last 30 years of scientific observations without anthropogenic emissions of GHG.

Maybe then we might listen to your 52.11" of liquid bullshit.

Flexible economy better at recovering from storms

Sandy wasn't a designated hurricane by the time it hit land.

There was a time lapse of a building in New York City that was chewed up by "superstorm" Sandy. The next year it was replaced. A hundred years before it wasn't even land.

The conservation mindset would have you limit all building and growth only to that which can withstand the largest storms. (We'll leave aside the strategy by the very rich to use this to limit access to land by the middle class.)

But we have figured out over time that it's cheaper and better for growth to have less restrictions and regulation, because a flexible and resilient economy generates more money to rebuild when a building does get destroyed.

With a restricted economy that building never gets built in the first place.

Nice theory

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But we have figured out over time that it's cheaper and better for growth to have less restrictions and regulation, because a flexible and resilient economy generates more money to rebuild when a building does get destroyed.

Please supply examples of where this has been true, and how. Cite your sources and supply accounting figures.

We are about to see how expensive your "theory" is, however. You can keep repeating this mantra all you like - reality will show us otherwise.

Such a Convenient Omission

Remember Irene - the hurricane that prepped NH and VT and parts of Western MA for Colonoscopy? Ate ten miles of Route 2?

Amazing that a Fish could leave out the hurricane/tropical storm that caused nearly $200 million in damage in Massachusetts alone!


Convenient omission.

Remember folks: hurricanes aren't just about storm surge on coastlines and wind storms ... they are also about LOTS and LOTS of RAIN!

Not to mention the water has

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Not to mention the water has to go somewhere. The system would shift flooding from Boston to further down the coast to bordering low lying areas


Houston isn't flooding because of a storm surge coming up Galveston bay - it's because of the massive rainfall - something a harbour barrier would do nothing to fix... (hmmm - would a barrier actually hamper the draining of a flooded Boston??)

Delta Works vs. Inland Floods

The Delta Works prevents surges into the delta, but it also regulates water flowing out.

This was a problem during the floods of 1995, and getting water out of the landscape is a continuing problem that engineers are working to address. Climate change means more than sea level rise - in many temperate climates, it means more rainfall and more intense rainfall events. Some later projects have been designed as "open barriers" to both preserve estuarine environments and protect from backflow.

This is also a concern for the MOSE project in Venice, as their historic floods have been a combination of high water in the Adriatic plus water exiting local rivers into the lagoon.

Locally, the Earhart Dam is a travesty of maladaptation given its current state. It will flank if we get a 7' (2m) surge at high tide (Sandy was a 12' surge - but hit at low tide here) and it also has at most two working pumps to send fresh water over it. There have been studies to address capacity to pump water over the dam to prevent back flooding and possibly add a fourth pump, but that doesn't mean much when they aren't maintained.

While this is a funny comment

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if you go to you tube there are literally dozens upon dozens of conspiracy videos about how Harvey is a government conspiracy and they used weather control to keep the storm where it is and destroy Houston for....profit? or something?
I dunno, Fish or EM Painter might be able to explain it better....

Frankly I don't know what to

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Frankly I don't know what to make of the scope of the Houston flood situation. How do you measure it?

The flood death toll is up to 30 people. But Greater Houston has a population of 5+ million people, so any given day, 180 people are going to die just based on life expectancy. Of course every death is someone's life, but if have to quantify it, 30 is much smaller is 180.

And naturally the news coverage will show the places with the most dramatic flooding, but not areas which are not flooded.

How much of Houston is underwater right now?


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Nope. Not at all.

That's why FEMA requires plans for identifying AND FIXING issues every 5 years - no plan, no aid.

ROI for places like MA is $4 saved for every $1 invested.

Menino actually said

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Menino actually said something about the Long Island bridge and Quincy like this and look how that turned out.

Make it see through

Really tall, and see through.

We don't want bad hombres throwing 60lb sacks of lobsters over it, landing on people!