The obvious response to rising sea levels is to build higher sea walls. Damn the expense and the fact that they cause problems elsewhere, we need to protect my shoreline property!
So one possibility to protect Boston’s waterfront is to build big barriers out in Boston Harbor, like they’re doing in Venice, maybe using some of the little islands that dot the day. Commonwealth Magazine reports (article is here) that a study of this possibility found – surprise! surprise! – that there are cheaper, more effective ways to cope:
The study examined three options: a barrier stretching from Swampscott to Cohasset providing access to the harbor through a series of locks and two other designs that would install shorter barriers with gates that would be closed only in cases of extreme high tides. The two gated barriers included in the study ran from Winthrop to Hull and from Logan International Airport to the Seaport District.
The study dismissed out of hand the Swampscott-to-Cohasset option because it would essentially create a fresh water lake out of Boston Harbor, disrupt shipping, and cost between $35 billion and $80 billion while providing roughly the same level of protection as the Winthrop-to-Hull option.
The 3.8-mile Winthrop-to-Hull option (along with 9 miles of shore-based protection systems in Hull, Winthrop, and Revere) and the Logan-to-Seaport District option (along with 18 miles of shore-based protection systems) were examined in greater detail, with the researchers concluding that they would be impractical to operate and less cost-effective than strictly on-shore initiatives. In both instances, the barriers would be made of concrete and steel and then covered with dirt.