Boston North Shore Study

Regional Saugus River Floodgate Project - Everett, Lynn, Malden, Revere and Saugus, Massachusetts


Regional Saugus River Floodgate ProjectThe Regional Saugus River Floodgate Project is the primary option in the Boston North Shore region for the "Saugus River Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study" authorized by the President on 23 Dec 2022.   The project was initially planned and designed over eight (8) years (1985-1993) at a cost of $8.6 million by the Army Corps of Engineers with the help of Citizen Steering Committees from Lynn, Malden, Revere & Saugus and a Technical Group of environmental and other interests to reduce coastal flood damages as a result of the catastrophe in the Blizzard of ‘78 and subsequent storms.  This nor'easter flooded 3,100 buildings affecting 10,000 residents, 20,000 employees and 400,000 commuters. A total of 4,000 people were evacuated over two days of severe flooding up to 7 feet deep in freezing weather with recurring damages estimated at $288 million. The Regional Project, which includes a floodgate structure with 9 gated 500 feet of openings, at the mouth of the Saugus River tied into 3.1 miles of shorefront structures and acquisition and management of 1,650 acres of Estuary storage area, provides the highest level of coastal flood protection and against sea level rise from storms far worse than 1978 benefiting 5,000 buildings, 8,000 housing units… includes significant environmental, social and economic benefits.  Detailed modeling showed the strong advantage of using restored sand dunes to protect Point of Pines and reducing overtopping of Revere Beach using the abandoned I-95 embankment sand.  Removing 4,900 feet of this embankment in the estuary could restore 16.7 acres of ecosystem habitat and restore natural flushing to 500 acres of upper estuary.  In July 2020 during a review of detailed maps of the Town Line Brook floodplain, it became apparent that the SPN floodplain reached into a neighborhood in the City of Everett which included about 100 homes.  This is a floodplain which was under investigation by the state so not investigated by the Corps study.  In the end no coastal flood protection was provided by the state, but would be protected by the Regional project.  However benefits for this Town Line Brook area were never determined in this area for Everett, Malden and Revere.

Current Status

The Project was sponsored by Lynn, Malden, Revere & Saugus, and in 1990 by the State's Metropolitan District Commission (MDC), who was under the direction of three (3) Secretaries of Environmental Affairs during the investigation.  Then in 1993 a new Secretary was appointed who opposed construction along the Massachusetts coast and refused to renew support.   The letter that followed from the MDC (state sponsor) indicated there would be a delay pending the state’s reevaluation of non-structural solutions, yet to be accomplished.

 The Project was then placed on hold by the Corps.  The project had completed the Feasibility Report, EIS/EIR, environmental review process, and both physical and numerical modeling which helped design the most effective features to protect the region…also Congress had authorized it for construction and the state had sponsored it. 

Future Action

With the coastal communities facing frequent flooding and accelerated sea level rise, they requested a renewed study to investigate the project for regional protection.  With the help of their Congressional Delegation, the president signed legislation authorizing the Boston North Shore Feasibility Study on 23 Dec 2022.

Slide6 Rescue BoatBlizzard of '78 Flooding - Up to 7 feet of water damaged 3,100 buildings & flooded transportation routes for 400,000 commuters in the region, 4,000 people evacuated.

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