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With storms intensifying and oceans on the rise, Boston weighs strategies for staying dry

A multi-billion-dollar seawall is among climate adaptation options under consideration for the iconic coastal city

Image © iStockphoto.com/Vladone
Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge, which reached New York in October 2012, demonstrated the walloping damage severe weather can wreak on coastal cities. Photo courtesy of Metropolitan Transportation Authority | Patrick Cashin
But launching a multi-billion-dollar, multi-decade megaproject like a giant seawall, in a country that often fails to maintain its existing infrastructure, is no simple task. To get things started, experts say, the city and its partners must plan long and hard, with all the project options and alternative approaches on the table, and keep local residents and other stakeholders involved from the start.
To see how rising sea levels might impact Boston — and other places throughout the world — check out Climate Central’s Surging Seas Risk Zone Map.
New Orleans inner harbor storm surge barrier was constructed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to reduce the risk of future disasters. Photo courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Team New Orleans

“If you build a storm surge barrier for Boston that costs US$5 to US$10 billion, there will be a payback on that cost that makes sense.” — William Golden

High tides, such as this October 2016 king tide, already bring the Atlantic Ocean creeping onto sidewalks and parking lots along Boston’s waterfront. Photo courtesy of Ed Lyons

“We need to switch our federal policy from disaster relief to investing in disaster prevention.” — William Golden

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Ensia is a solutions-focused nonprofit media outlet reporting on our changing planet.