Massport wants to shield Logan Airport from rising sea levels and storm surges

Logan International Airport in Boston. (PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO)
Logan International Airport in Boston. (PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO)

As New Englanders keeps their proverbial fingers crossed that the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season passes without incident, Boston’s bustling sea-side airport is taking measures to prepare for the long-term effects of rising seas and turbulent storms. 

The Massachusetts Port Authority announced today that as it develops its long range strategic plan over the next year, a key component of the effort will be how to protect Boston Logan Airport, the Port of Boston and waterfront real estate against long-term sea level rise, storm surges and intense weather events like superstorm Sandy.

The first part of the study is currently underway, and assesses both the expected number and intensity of future storms as well as the vulnerability of Massport facilities. According to Massport officials, both elements are required to understand the issue better in order to develop appropriate resolutions.

“Good work on looking at rising sea levels is already being done and we want to work collaboratively with federal, state and local officials on this pressing issue,’’ said Thomas P. Glynn, Massport CEO. “Resiliency planning will be critical for Massport and the region to reduce the likelihood of damage from an event and will accelerate the recovery process when an event occurs.’’

In February, city officials revealed that if Hurricane Sandy hit Boston five hours earlier, during high tide, nearly 7 percent of the city would have flooded, and water could have reached as far inland as City Hall Plaza.

The Boston Harbor Association released a report that month, “Preparing for the Rising Tide,”which offered recommendations for the city to prepare for changes in sea level and predicted coastal flooding over the next century.

The association also said that Logan Airport is among sites that may be at risk for increased storm flooding by 2050.

Sam Sleiman, Massport’s director of capital programs and environmental affairs, briefed the Massport board today on the resiliency study parameters.

Massport will work with LeighFisher, the strategic plan consultant, who was hired earlier this year, to set program milestones including the hazard assessment, the vulnerability assessment, an infrastructure and operational implementation plan, as well as an estimated budget to institute recommendations.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS


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