The Regional Saugus River Floodgate Project is a coastal flood protection project to provide a very high level of protection to the Cities of Everett, Lynn, Malden and Revere, and the town of Saugus, Massachusetts. The region is five (5) miles north of Boston and is the most vulnerable area along the Massachusetts coast to storm surge flooding and sea level rise, and possibly along the US coast.
The US Army Corps of Engineers New England Division investigated solutions to the problem with 5 Steering Committees over 4 years ($2.6 million). The Recommended Regional Project includes a Floodgate structure at the mouth of the Saugus River with nine (9) gated openings, designed to provide safe passage for navigation and the natural tide levels and flushing in the 1,650 acre tidal Estuary landward of the gates. The Estuary would be purchased and managed to protect its flood water storage and environmental resources. The gates would be tied to 3.1 miles of shorefront improvements along Lynn Harbor, Point of Pines and the Revere Beach Reservation. It would protect 5,000 buildings, 8,000 housing units, 10,000 residents, 20,000 employees and 400,000 commuters in the region against the worst coastal storm likely to occur and against sea level rise, estimated damages at $ 1.3 billion.
A 2.5 year final design effort ($6 million, 75%) completed most investigations and the modeling of the Floodgates and shorefront improvements. The project would cost an estimated $230 million (2020 p.l.) and be cost shared with the Federal Government. A narrow opening in an abandoned I-95 embankment restricts tidal flows to 500 acres in the upper Estuary deteriorating the wetlands. The project has the opportunity to breach the embankment and restore the wetlands as requested by resource agencies.
Although the US Congress authorized the Project for construction, a new State Secretary of Environmental Affairs in the fall of 1993 was opposed to construction along the Massachusetts coast and stopped it, and since it has been de-authorized. Currently, renewed interest in the Project by the communities, along with the Governor’s interest to help communities facing flooding from sea level rise, may help to restart the Project.
There are two avenues being used to pursue coastal flood protection for the region. First, the "New Study Start" process was initiated by a joint letter request by the five communities, a feasibility process which would develop and evaluate all alternatives and may take about 13 years before construction of a project could begin. The Corps of Engineers' Planning Chief reported in January 2021 that authorization was needed to submit a budget request and several ideas are being looked into to maybe submit it in the upcoming FY 2023 budget. If successful he'd be in touch with the communities.
Second, Revere officials requested Senator Edward Markey to "Re-Authorize" the Regional Saugus River Floodgate Project (legislatively known as "Saugus River and Tributaries Flood Damage Reduction Project") possibly in the Water Resources Development Act of 2022. This would authorize Federal construction of the Regional project, then funds could be budgeted to continue Preconstruction Engineering and Design. Senator Markey agreed to work with the Congressional Delegation to start the process in the spring 2021. If successful WRDA 2022 authorization would by-pass the need for a "New Study Start". The Regional Project would then require the funds to update and review the project and complete the design which was 76% completed (1 year remaining) when the project was stopped. This approach would likely require about 3 years before construction would start.
Public involvement is required for both the "New Study Start" and "Re-Authorization" in order to renew support from the Commonwealth. This effort is yet to be started.
12-10-20 Mr. Rupp reported that WRDA 2020 was impossible to modify at this point after discussing it with Senator Markey. However, he reported that Senator Markey is supportive based on his historic involvement with Revere since he was a freshman Congressman, and they will aim for the 2022 WRDA which comes together mid 2021 legislatively. Mr. Rupp will act as the liaison with the Senator's staff and the Staffs of Congressman Moulton and Congresswoman Clark per Markey's instructions, and coordinate with the Corps of Engineers' Planning Chief.
12-5-20 Re-authorizing the Regional Project would save many years in lieu of re-planning the protection for the region, since the major change is the increasing risk from rising sea levels. Mr. Paul Rupp, formerly Revere's Director of Planning and Economic Development during the investigation, offered to coordinate with Senator Edward Markey and his staff to attempt to re-authorize the project possibly by adding it into the Water Resources Development Act of 2020 Bill. The Bill is scheduled to be voted on by the US Senate this month. WRDAs are usually biennial legislation which authorizes US Army Corps of Engineers projects. During the coordination, Mr. Rupp, currently with Community Reinvestment Associates, Inc., requested a chronological history of the project which would answer such questions as: Why was the project de-authorized?; Where does the project stand?; What are the Federal and non-Federal costs before starting construction?; and What is the timeline? See the attached "Milestones" .
11-24-20 The city of Revere initiated a request to Senator Markey to Re-authorize the Regional Saugus River Floodgate Project, possibly in the pending Water Resources Development Act of 2020 (WRDA), currently a bill before the US Senate--this approach is a long shot. WRDAs are initiated by the Environment and Public Works Committees which include the Corps of Engineers' projects. Senator Markey, a member of the Committee, was responsible for initially getting the project Congressionally Authorized in WRDA 1992. Reauthorization could save an estimated 9 years of restudy effort and $6 million.
10-8-20 EPA's Ed Reiner advised the Project Manager (PM) that the MA Water Resources Authority was planning a major water line across the Saugus River which would conflict with the Floodgate alignment. At the request of both Ed and Revere officials, the PM advised the Corps of the conflict since the Corps' Regulatory office was reviewing the application. The PM reported that the water line would interfere with the extensive piles required to support the floodgate structure, and a million dollars had been spent on the borings, surveys, and physical and numerical modeling for this location.
8-28-20 The city of Revere decided to take the lead to complete the application and coordinate a letter of support with the communities for a request to the Corps of Engineers for a "New Study Start". The application and letter, coordinated by Revere's Elle Baker and Frank Stringi and Saugus' Peter Manoogian, was completed by the 31 August deadline with the Mayors of Everett, Lynn, Malden and Revere, and the Saugus Town Manager signing the August 26, 2020 letter. The letter supported the study and a regional solution to the coastal flooding problem and environmental enhancement of the upper estuary. The study would be called the Boston North Shore Coastal Flood Damage Reduction and Environmental Enhancement Study. New coordinators with the study include: Ms. Doloros Lattanzi - Executive Manager to the Mayor of Everett; Mr. Aaron Clausen-Lynn City Planner; and, Ms. Michelle Romero - Malden City Planner. View Letter
8-24-20 Revere's City Council Legislative Affairs Sub-Committee: Following a brief presentation, most councilors spoke in favor of the Regional Project and then unanimously voted to support a resolution for the actions proposed at the 7-27-20 City council meeting. The resolution will then be presented to the full Council. Meanwhile the Mayor's staff is completing the application for a "New Study Start" with a supporting letter for the five communities to endorse. The Revere City Clerk sent a letter to the Corps of Engineers on behalf of the City Council to confirm their full support for the Boston North Shore Coastal Flood Damage Reduction and Environmental Enhancement Study. View Letter
8-18-20 With the help of Vice Chair Corinne Riley and Peter Manoogian, following a brief zoom presentation, the Saugus Board of Selectmen voted 5-0 to support actions to: (1) send letters to the Congressional Delegation to sponsor a resolution to re-authorize the Regional Project, and (2) to send an application and supporting letter to the Corps for a new study start--- not knowing which avenue may prove more successful.
8-6-20 State Representative RoseLee Vincent sent a letter to Governor Baker, copy to the Secretary of Energy & Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides, supporting the Town of Saugus' request to reinstate the Regional Saugus River Floodgate Project, since it would "..not only protect 5,000 coastal residential and commercial buildings in Saugus, Revere, Lynn and Malden, but would also be critical in restoring portions of the East Saugus Marshes...I can attest that this project is sorely needed now...the Wheelabrator Saugus incinerator, whose unlined ash landfill is adjacent to the banks of the river. A major concern..is that one day, a severe coastal storm will breach the landfill, sending contaminates flowing into the river..and into their homes.." View Letter