Restoring the Muddy River

Construction is ongoing near the Riverway in Brookline and Boston.

New condos? No.

This is a $90 million project to restore the Muddy River.

"It's a fabulous, exciting project," says Susan Knight, interim President of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy. "To have a restoration project of this scope and scale is a wonderful transformation of the Back Bay Fens."

Phase one is nearly complete. It involves creating a new park, while also bringing the river back above ground.

"This part here was totally covered by grass, dirt, that type of thing," says Peggy Grace while overlooking the newly exposed water. She works nearby.

Decades ago the river was actually placed underground so the city could be built up on top of it. Underground the water was forced into small culverts. Now back above ground, it has more space to act as a catch basin. That cuts back the risk of flooding.

"To have it work that way really transforms the area and safe guards all its incredible institutions,” Knight says.

Those institutions have flooded in the past. In 1996, for example, the Green Line was flooded.

"The flood damage, from when the Muddy River exceeded its banks, was millions and millions of dollars,” Knight recalls.

To this day, when the river floods, the "T" still sand bags its Green Line tunnels to prevent flooding, which disrupts service. The agency says this project will improve its ability to operate during flood situations.

The next phase involves dredging the river to cut the risk of flooding even more.

"The end result is certainly worth it. It's going to be beautiful and it’s going to be back to what Olmsted had in mind when he created this part of the green necklace," Peggy Grace adds.

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