The city of Boston is already preparing plans to adapt its infrastructure to an environment with significantly higher sea levels, according to a report in the Boston Globe. According to the Globe, the city is working with architects, insurance companies, officials, and engineers to prepare the city for a world with higher sea levels.
Much of the city sits only a few feet above sea level. According to the report, some of the potential changes the city could implement include moving electrical equipment from building basements to roofs, raising subway and highway tunnel entrances, zoning changes that would discourage new building in areas likely to flood in the future, and building large sea gates around Boston Harbor to protect the city from the worst of future storm surges. Several agencies, including the Mayor’s Office of Homeland Security, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the public health commission and the office of Environmental and Energy Services are cooperating on the plans. The Boston Water and Sewage Commission is studying new ways to drain the city in the event of catastrophic flooding.
However, some of the more extensive solutions proposed could take decades to design, certify and build, according to the report. Because of its low-lying geography, the city could be threatened by sea level changes before that. The Globe cited a report by the World Wildlife Fund stating that even a rise in ocean levels of as little as 18 inches could threaten up to $400 billion in assets and submerge much of the city.
Some designers aren’t waiting that long. According to the report, the new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital is designed to sit substantially above the flood line and has moved most of its electrical equipment from the basement to the roof.
New York City also recently began looking at plans to prepare the city for rising sea levels and a warmer climate.