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 study process which would develop and evaluate all alternatives and may take, say 5 - 13 years before construction of a project could begin depending on when funds are received and scope of further studies.
Second, Revere officials requested Senator Edward Markey to "Re-Authorize" the Regional Saugus River Floodgate Project possibly in the Water Resources Development Act of 2022. This would authorize Federal construction of the Regional project, after a Post Authorization Change (PAC) Report is completed by the Corps and approved. The PAC report which updates project support, features, costs, benefits and environmental issues is required by Congress for re-authorized projects. Funds could then be budgeted to continue Preconstruction Engineering and Design. The Regional Project would then complete the design which was 76% completed (1 year remaining) when the project was stopped. This approach would likely require, best guess, about 3 years before construction would start.
Public involvement is required for both efforts in order to renew support from the Commonwealth. This effort is underway by the city of Revere who has taken the lead for the region.
July 2021 -- Senators Markey and Warren submitted a $1.5 million funding request to the Senate Appropriations Committee for the intended recipients of Revere, Saugus, Lynn, Malden and Everett to support the Regional Saugus River Flood Protection Project and study in partnership with the Corps of Engineers. If funded, "The project aims to analyze current and future flood risk region and recommend a hybrid solution..to advance regional strategies for climate adaptation and flood mitigation measures. The Saugus and Pines River area has sustained repetitive flood damage for decades and the recent MA-Flood Risk Model predicts that the already vulnerable conditions are exacerbated by climate change and sea-level rise impacting Environmental Justice populations and Area of Critical Environmental Concern."
5-24-21 -- Elle Baker, Revere Environmental Planner, advised that she "..was able to secure funding to establish a new regional working group of stakeholders for the project and I hope to have this kick off in June.. likely vis zoom."
3-30-21--The city of Revere and Corps of Engineers believe an existing study authority can be used to start the Feasibility study sooner than waiting the anticipated 3 or 4 years for authorization and funding. The attached letter from Revere's Mayor, on behalf of the five communities, requests the Feasibility study for a regional flood protection project be investigated as part of the Corps' North Atlantic Coastal Comprehensive Study. If approved the cost of the Feasibility study would be shared 50-50 between Federal and non-Federal interests. View Letter
3-23-21--The city of Revere arranged a zoom meeting with Mr. Greg Robbins, Director, Division of Waterways, Dept of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). Attending the meeting were: Mr. Robbins; Ms. Elle Baker with Revere’s Planning Office; Ms. Mary Lester with the Saugus River Watershed Council & Lynn Conservation Comm.; Revere’s consultants; and Bob Hunt, Senior Project Manager ACOE Retired. The purpose of the meeting was to obtain guidance from Mr. Robbins on the city’s plans for development in the Riverside and Point of Pines area, as well as his concerns for the Regional Floodgate Project. The attached document “Environmental Benefits and Mitigation”, prepared by Mr. Hunt at Revere’s request, was sent to participants by Ms. Baker, and lists the 16 major environmental benefits and mitigation measures of the Regional Project. Mr. Robbins was very interested in the information, admitting he wasn’t that knowledgeable on the project. He was aware that, at several public meetings, folks were quite supportive of the Regional Project as a panacea for their flooding problems. He cautioned us that regulations have changed over the past 30 years and there is concern whether the Regional Floodgate Project could have a significant detrimental impact on the Rumney Marsh ACEC estuary, and whether it would ultimately be acceptable because of new regulations and its cost. He agreed that DCR would have a major part in this project. Ms. Baker advised that she was: concerned that without the Regional Project, we might as well pack up and move out of the floodplain; hoping funds would arrive next month to fund a consultant who’d organize/manage an Advocacy Group to coordinate a regional flooding solution; and also, she’s coordinating with the ACOE to expedite study funds. The city is also coordinating letters to the Governor and Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Mr. Hunt explained the background on the project, advised coordination was needed with state agencies, and that all of the Planning Reports and Design Documents on the physical and numerical modeling of the floodgates, estuary, breaching I-95 embankment, Revere Beach and dunes at Point of Pines had links on the Project’s web site for their use…which they appreciated. View Environmental Benefits & Mitigation
2-9-21 An email entitled "Regional Floodgates: Corps Recommendation for Senator Edward Markey" was sent by the retired Project Manager to the Corps of Engineers with copies to: the Environmental Secretary; Dept. of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner; and officials of the five communities. The purpose was to alert the Corps to Senator Markey's need for their recommendation on "Re-authorization' of the Regional Project, and reasons why the Corps should consider supporting "Re-authorization". These reasons include; renewed public support, increasing flood threat from sea level rise and benefits, minimal increase in costs, no change in the minimal environmental issues, and that it remains the preferred alternative. View Email