Boston Mayor Marty Walsh Presents Plans to Combat Climate Change, Protect City From Rising Seas

Boston's mayor is proposing transforming the city's booming but low-lying waterfront to protect it from climate change and rising sea levels.

Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh announced his "Resilient Boston Harbor" plan Wednesday in his annual speech to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

"I could spend all morning talking about our city's success, but today I need to do something different," he said. "I'm going to focus on one topic, but it's a topic that impacts everything we do in our city."

The mayor called climate change an "urgent priority" and previewed steps being taken to address it. He said the city is investing more in environmentally-friendly public transportation, adding protected bike lanes and has already expanded open space across Boston.

"I'm proud of our leadership, but the fact is climate change is already here," he said.

A 2016 city report projected Boston could see 36 inches of sea level rise by 2070, potentially causing more than $14 billion in economic losses.

Walsh's plan calls for the creation of 67 acres of new open space and the restoration of 122 acres of other waterfront areas to serve as natural buffers during major floods. It also proposes elevating Main Street in Charlestown and downtown's popular Harborwalk, among other measures.

He said the plan deliberately doesn't include costly plans for a massive harbor barrier.

The mayor spoke in detail on the city's climate-readiness plans by discussing each waterfront neighborhood's specific vision.

Boston Harbor, East Boston, downtown, the North End, South Boston and Dorchester each have their own vision.

East Boston, Charlestown

A deployable floodwall system will be installed across the East Boston Greenway, while a portion of Main Street in Charlestown will be elevated. Constitution Beach will be redesigned to combine expansion for recreation with flood protection.

North End, Downtown

Christopher Columbus Park, Langone Park, sections of the Harborwalk and Puopolo Playground will be redesigned and elevated to combat any future flooding. The Sargent's Wharf parking lot will be transformed to include an open space.

South Boston, Fort Point

After identifying major flood pathways, officials announced they plan to create a more resilient Moakley Park and Fort Point Channel. In an effort to enhance open space, the Emerald Necklace will be completed from Franklin Park to Moakley Park along Columbia Road. The city will also apply for $10 million for a FEMA mitigation grant to work on Fort Point Channel.

Dorchester Waterfront

Morrissey Boulevard will be redesigned to stop any future flooding. The Neponset River Trail in Mattapan will be completed from Victory Park to Tenean Beach.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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