The Regional Saugus River Floodgate Project is a coastal flood protection project to provide a very high level of protection to the Cities of 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) 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.
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.