Public gets preview of Muddy River Project’s Phase 2

The public got a preview of the $74 million Phase 2 of the Muddy River Project on Wednesday, Feb. 27, at Emmanuel College.
Wendy Gendron, chief of the Civil Works Branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ New England District, detailed the plan before a capacity crowd at a meeting co-sponsored by the Muddy River Restoration Project Oversight Committee (MMOC) – the independent body that ensures full compliance and promotes stewardship of the project area – along with the Muddy River Cabinet.
Phase 2 of the project, which is a collaboration involving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as well as the City of Boston and Town of Brookline, entails dredging a flood-control channel through 13 work areas and building a flood wall surrounding the Boston Fire Department Control Center in the Back Bay Fens, Gendron said.
This phase of the project would also include the management of phragmites, the physical removal of plants and the treatment of invasive species, as well as seeding and planting in all areas. “Habitat logs” would be installed to accommodate fish and turtles inhabiting the project areas, and some trees – those in poor health and others to allow for access of construction vehicles – will be removed during the undertaking.
Gendron said expected project challenges include establishing on-site vegetation for rabbits, waterfowl and fish, as well as managing water levels, which can fluctuate by as much as a foot on any given day.
Charter Contract Company, the Boston firm that handled the first phase of the project, was awarded the second-phase contract one day earlier on Feb. 26 after a year-long effort.
“We have the ability for continuity and lessons learned from Phase 1 passed onto Phase 2,” Gendron said.
Construction is expected to kick off this spring in anticipation of a 2023 completion date, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will continue to monitor the project area through 2025.
“Minor traffic disruption and construction noise is anticipated, but not at night,” Gendron said.
Meanwhile, Boston Parks Commissioner Chris Cook discussed Climate Change Boston – a new initiative to “develop resilient solutions” to prepare the city for long-term effects of climate change.
Sea-level rise is expected to reach 40 inches by the 2070s, he said, while storm-water flooding has increased to 6 inches from the typical rate of 5 inches.
Cook also said a 2014 study put the city’s tree canopy at 27 percent, but he believes that tree loss has increased since then.
“Socially vulnerable population feel the effects of climate change more than others,” Cook said, adding that this inequality would likely result in a City of Boston tree ordinance to protect trees.
Besides “smart urban planning along the coastlines” and “more environmentally conscious development,” Cook said “green infrastructure” is one of the best tools to combat increased heat as 90 straight days of 90-degree weather are expected by the 2070s.
The Boston Planning and Development Agency is also incorporating Costal Resilience Design Guidelines into city zoning restrictions as a further step to combat climate change, Cook said.

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