To address natural hazard events and improve climate resiliency, the Town completed a Hazard Mitigation Plan in 2014. The Weymouth Local Hazard Mitigation Planning Team identified several mitigation measures that would serve to reduce the Town’s vulnerability to natural hazard events. The most important of these are physical infrastructure improvement projects including coastal structure elevations along Fort Point Road.
Weymouth took part in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affair's Municipality Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) in 2017, to continue exploring ways to make Weymouth more resilient to natural hazards including coastal flooding and the impacts of climate change. Coastal infrastructure (particularly seawalls), drainage and stormwater management were among the Town’s top categories of concerns and challenges in the final MVP Planning Report. Reconstruction of the coastal infrastructure in the Fort Point Road area was, once again, identified as an immediate need.
In 2018, Weymouth pursued and was awarded an $129,557 MVP Action Grant to address the physical infrastructure in the Fort Point Road area. Weymouth was among 34 communities to receive a MVP Action Grant in the first year of action grant funding, representing 10 percent of the state’s municipalities.
The Town worked together with Tighe and Bond, an engineering and environmental specialist firm, to determine the best solution to address the infrastructure and climate-related concerns at the Fort Point Road area coastline. On March 21, 2019 Weymouth Engineering Staff hosted a public forum to present the design options and gather public feedback. That presentation is available here for viewing by clicking here.
Strategy for Building Resilience: The natural hazard and public safety risks in the Project Area are an immediate concern and may be exacerbated in the future by the effects of climate change. We believe a multi-pronged approach is necessary to reduce our vulnerabilities and increase the resilience of Project Area’s coastal infrastructure. Our strategy includes the following:
1. Seawall Redesign and Reconstruction: The Town of Weymouth is proposing to redesign the seawall in the Fort Point Road area to provide a resilient, holistic system capable of properly functioning over the 50-year life of the new infrastructure. This holistic and resilient design approach considers projected climate change impacts, including sea level rise and increased frequency and severity of coastal storms.
The existing concrete wall is anticipated to be reconstructed as a concrete encased sheet pile wall and will be raised approximately one and one-half to two feet from the current elevation to an elevation of 12’ NAVD88. The sheet pile will be driven to a depth of approximately 12 feet below Mean Sea Level (MSL), thereby improving sliding resistance, reducing wave wash-through, and minimizing potential for loss of backfill in the rocks that support the wall. The new height or top-of-wall elevation was established through public outreach and meetings to balance the risks for overtopping with the impacts of a higher wall on viewsheds and access to the beach. The new wall and its foundation will also be designed with appropriate load-bearing capacity to accommodate future modifications in height and size. This will allow the Town to more easily retrofit the infrastructure in future to better respond to climate change impacts.
The proposed project also includes public access stairways in three locations. The design of the concrete and timber stairways wraps around the top of the seawall and drops down over the revetment with helical anchor pilings to support the foot of the open timber stairway. The suggested locations for stairs include a stairway at the end of Sawtell Road, Bacon Road, and the north end of Caldwell Street. The walls and the stairway have been designed to stay within the footprint of the existing infrastructure to minimize impacts on sensitive coastal resources.
2. Drainage Redesign and Reconstruction: Drainage in the Project Area will be redesigned and reconstructed to better respond to projected climate change impacts as a coherent, holistic system for storm and flood water management, not a patchwork of independent structures. This new system will rapidly drain flood waters post storm while also having the capacity to keep water out – i.e., to eliminate both surcharging and the infiltration of tidally-influenced ground water as it currently occurs.
The permit level stormwater design includes a water-tight, easy-to-maintain system including new generation elastomeric check valves to control backflow. All drain outfalls were designed for durability, ease of maintenance, and resistance to beach sedimentation and blockage and meet Massachusetts stormwater management standards for redevelopment projects. Existing catch basins will be evaluated and replaced with new structures where appropriate. All catch basins will also be hooded to remove gross solids or hydrocarbons from runoff prior to discharge.
As the project moves forward the Town plans to pursue additional MVP Action Grant funding in order to finalize design plans and obtain the necessary federal, state, and local permits. The final design and permit phase will take at least one year. It is anticipated that construction on the seawall repairs and infrastructure improvements would take place no earlier than 2021.
View of Fort Point Road looking north towards the Fore River and Quincy
Fort Point Road concept drawing with replaced seawall, raised approximately 18 inches
CLICK HERE to view the recent public forum on the project
Frequently Asked Questions
(updated Sept 2019)
To stay up to date on the project or to submit a question, click here.
Wall Height & Design
How much higher will the wall be?
The wall will be elevated approximately 2 feet based on the existing seawall being at approximately elevation 10 feet, using the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88) as a reference point. This will allow the top of the new wall to match the FEMA Base Flood Elevation (“base flood”) of 12 feet. The base flood is the flood that FEMA considers to have a 1% chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. It should be noted that some portions of the wall are slightly lower or higher than 10 feet, so the height increase will actually be +/- 2 feet. This will result in the entire wall having a height elevation of NAVD88 12 feet. Click here to review the final permitting level plans. Before and after landscape renderings of the plans can be seen here.
Why does it have to be elevated to that height? Can it be less?
It is highly recommended by our design consultant, and the opinion of town staff, that the wall be elevated to 12 feet NAVD88 elevation. This will bring it equal to the FEMA AE 100-year flood zone. The area immediately outside (seaward) of the existing seawall is classified as the FEMA VE 100-year flood zone, which is due to its exposure to wave action. The VE zone has a flood elevation of 16 feet NAVD88. By elevating to the FEMA AE flood zone, the wall achieves several goals in protecting the area and makes the project more likely to be funded through state and/or federal grants. A design elevation of 12 feet will also provide improved protection from the approximately 1.6-1.9 feet of sea level rise that is predicted to potentially occur by 2070.
Does the 2-foot elevation apply to the entire wall or can some portions be lower than others?
The elevation applies to the entire wall. As was noted, some sections will be elevated slightly less or slightly more than 2 feet in order to meet the 12 foot NAVD88 height; however, the entire wall height will be 12 feet.
Can there be flexibility in the design so the height can be adjusted as needed when the sea level rises?
The proposed design will provide for additional height increases in the future as needed.
Will the wall be moved closer to homes, narrowing the street?
No. The road width will remain essentially what it is today.
What is the potential of flooding from the beach onto Fort Point Road and how will it be addressed?
Related to flooding from George E. Lane Beach, there is currently a beach access ramp at the southern end of Fort Point Rd. That ramp rises up to close to the height of the existing seawall, then drops down to meet the beach. That ramp would be modified as part of the seawall project to rise up to the same elevation as the top of the new seawall to keep seawater from being able to come in to Fort Point Road from the beach. Likewise, River St. is a low point that will require that Fort Point Road be raised in a manner that will prevent seawater from circumventing the new seawall which would otherwise flood Fort Point Road. That is more of a design challenge that will need a greater level of engineering than is feasible at this time. As discussed at our 9/18/19 public meeting, the low area that contains George E. Lane Beach, River St. and the Back River Boat Ramp Parking Lot, is a sizable project that will need to be addressed under a separate effort.
Will drainage be added the same time as the wall? Once the wall is complete any water that does make it over as well as in heavy rains will have no place to go without new drainage. Right now the flood waters drain back into the ocean through the cracks between the walls.
Yes. The project will include not only a reconstructed and elevated seawall but also extensive repairs to Fort Point Road. The road will be re-graded and re-paved and additional drainage will be added (catch basins, outfall pipes with check valves, etc.) to account for seawater overflowing the wall or stormwater. The residents can expect to see an improvement in storm water drainage after the project is complete.
Many of us have been looking at the progress of the Sea Street wall. Will the Fort Point Road seawall be handled in a similar fashion?
The type of coastal protection system being installed in Fore River Avenue is quite different from what is currently envisioned for Fort Point Road. While both projects involve a very significant level of heavy construction, the large stone revetment being placed at Fore River Ave. has been eliminated from consideration by the state environmental permitting agency Coastal Zone Management (CZM). That is largely what has driven the selection of concrete-encased, driven pile construction for the new Fort Point Road seawall. That construction method also avoids impact to the nearby areas of salt marsh. At the same time, the construction will be disruptive as any project of this magnitude in a residential area will unavoidably be.
Will any construction on the wall take place this year?
No. Pending acquisition of resident easements, state approval of the permits and grant funding, construction will start no earlier than spring of 2021.
Why is an easement needed and why does there need to be 3 easements? Why is an access agreement not sufficient?
Most of Fort Point Road and the seawall are currently privately owned or at least on private property. The Town is planning to utilize town property tax dollars and state/federal grant funding, all public funds, to complete the project. Because of this, the project is subject to the Public Benefit Rule, which requires that the investment made by the Town serve the public and the public has a vested interest in the property. As the land is currently owned by the private property owners, the town cannot invest public dollars into a private property. By granting ownership, or real property interest, in the locations detailed, the project complies with the Public Benefits rule.
The easement requested is three easements due to the access and ownership needed to complete the project. The first easement would grant the private road, Fort Point Road, to the town and it would be accepted as a public way (as are most roads in town and it would be maintained, plowed, paved, etc., as such). The second easement is for the wall itself. This will turn over ownership to the Town so that it can conduct the elevation project. Finally, the third easement will provide for public access to the land beyond the seawall (the “beach”). This will allow for the public to use the wall and meet the Public Benefit rule as described.
Why unlimited access for the easement? Why not initial construction, utilities and road & wall maintenance? What are the alternatives?
As stated above, the easement is needed to meet the public benefits rule which requires permanent interest in the property.
Why is “eminent domain” required to be in the easement language?
In this instance, eminent domain serves as a title clearing mechanism so as to prevent future title disputes for the Town. This is also referred to as a “friendly taking”.
If easements are granted, who is liable for construction risks, alterations, etc.?
Upon issuing a contract for the elevation project, the Town requires all contractors to carry insurance which will cover all liability, risks, etc. Therefore, the contractor will be liable in the event an issue occurs.
What are the residents getting in return for the easements?
The seawall elevation will protect properties from storm surges, waves, natural disasters, and property damage. In addition, Fort Point Road will be upgraded and subsequently maintained by the Town. The wall elevation is intended to meet today’s 100-year storm flood elevation as well as non-storm sea levels through 2070 (based on estimated sea level rise).
What is the threshold for voluntary participation in the agreement to the easement? How will those who do not agree be addressed?
The Town is seeking 100% voluntary participation. The only alternative to a voluntary granting of easement is to undergo an eminent domain taking. As this is a controversial, costly, and timely process, the Town is not likely and averse to pursuing this route. The Town plans to meet with those residents and work to alleviate concerns to try to achieve all voluntary participation.
Funding & Grants
Will there be a special tax assessment of residents? If so, which households and how much is proposed?
The Town currently is not planning for a special tax assessment or betterment for this project. The goal is to receive grant funding to support the design and construction costs. Upon review of the estimated project costs, it is possible a betterment would be looked at; however, at this time there is no such proposal.
How will the Town pay for the project?
The Town will seek grant funding through the MVP Action grant to finalize the design and associated costs. For the construction phase, the Town will pursue additional state grant funding, such as the Dam and Seawall Repair and Removal Program, to offset local match and funding requirements. In addition, it is anticipated the Town will perform work on an in-kind basis and fund additional items out of the general fund. After receiving construction cost estimates, the Town will explore options related to federal grant funding, state loan programs, funding through Town’s debt service, and any other mechanisms.
Are the existing stairs located across from various properties privately owned? If so, will these be part of the seawall project.
Yes, all existing stairs in the project area are privately owned. These will be replaced as part of the project. Three sets of stairs are proposed in the design, across from Sawtelle Street, Bacon Road, and Caldwell Street.
How will stairs be maintained and patrolled at night?
Stairs will be maintained in accordance with other town owned property. The Police Department will determine the patrol of the area, however, residents are encouraged to contact the Police Chief in the event of an issue or to report any problems in the area.
How will parking in the neighborhood be addressed? (With the new boardwalk and easy access, we anticipate a possible influx of parked cars)
- Resident Note: Keeping the road a private road in terms of parking, residents already have seen an increase of parking on Fort Point Road when the beach lot is full which is quite often. This will only increase when the boardwalk is complete. Having Fort Point posted as “parking for residents only” will go a long way to easing the fears of the neighborhood.
The Town recognizes that residents have experienced some issues with parking on the road in the past and that it is a concern moving forward as the road becomes a public way. As the project advances, parking measures can be addresses. It is very common in coastal communities to implement resident parking only provisions. In addition, the Town is reviewing the parking provisions currently in place town wide. As the project advances, the Town will make staff readily available to implement a parking measure that makes sense for the area. This will require a vote by Town Council so staff will keep residents apprised of the project schedule so any potential provisions can align with the project.
Does the increased wall height change the flood plain? Will this impact flood insurance rates?
The flood plain is determined by FEMA using a variety of processes. According to FEMA:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) partners with Tribal nations, States, and communities through the Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP) program to identify flood hazards, assess flood risks, and provide accurate data to guide stakeholders in taking effective mitigation actions that result in safer and more resilient communities. This data is incorporated into flood maps, known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), that support the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and provide the basis for community floodplain management regulations and flood insurance requirements.
Town staff are willing to work with FEMA officials and determine if the flood plain maps should be revised upon elevating the seawall. As a note, some flood map changes may increase or expand flood hazard zones thereby increasing insurance rates.
Flood insurance rates could go down as a result of the increased wall elevation and added protection to homes.
Will the project include improvements to the side roads, such as Harlow, Bacon or Sawtelle Road?
Yes, preliminary design plans include new drainage and new paving for the side roads. Each side road will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and addressed accordingly.
Will the ocean side of the wall remain the same or be a sheer wall going straight down?
The final design of the wall face has yet to be determined. While a vertical wall is envisioned at this time, further engineering study will evaluate other options until a final selection is made.
Does the road need to be re-paved and if so, are there any proposed traffic mitigation measures?
The road will need to be re-paved as part of the project, specifically the drainage improvement measures. Slight changes in grade may also be incorporated where possible. The Town can explore traffic mitigation measures including signage, curb cuts, or other options. This can be evaluated as the project progresses.
The easements require a 20ft wide right of way on the road, however, this will encroach onto my property. Will the Town adjust the right of way so I can maintain my existing property line (exclusive of the road)?
The 20-foot easement is intended to be for the roadway and not infringe on any property owners’ front, rear, or side yards. The 20-feet is measured from EXISTING front property lines to ensure that no existing parcels are reduced in size. To review how the easement will impact your property line, please contact the DPW Engineering Division where a rendering or drawing of the new property line can be reviewed.
What is the MVP?
In September 2016, Governor Baker signed Executive Order 569, directing multiple state agencies to develop and implement a statewide, comprehensive climate adaptation plan with the best climate-change data available. Recognizing that many adaptation solutions are local in nature, a key commitment of Executive Order 569 is to assist local governments in completing their own assessments and resiliency plans. The MVP Grant and Designation Program represents the first step in fulfilling this commitment.
The MVP program provides planning grants to municipalities to complete vulnerability assessments and develop action-oriented resiliency plans. Funding is used by cities and towns to hire an MVP-certified consultant who is trained to provide technical assistance and complete a community's vulnerability assessment and resiliency plan using the nationally recognized Community Resilience Building Framework. Towns and cities are free to choose a consultant of their choice from a list of certified MVP providers.
The purpose of MVP Planning is to enhance protection for residents and resources, Weymouth must plan for a world with higher sea levels, stronger storms, and more precipitation. The MVP planning process enabled Weymouth to define the extreme weather and climate-related hazards that will challenge our infrastructure and threaten residents and resources in coming years through the completion of the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness Program Summary of Findings Report (“MVP Planning Report”). With this knowledge, we can identify our vulnerabilities, develop action plans, prioritize our actions, and begin taking steps to reduce risk and build resilience. The MVP Planning Grant revealed top priorities to address in the next phase through the MVP Action Grant program.
The MVP Action Grant allows for “restoring and expanding Weymouth’s aging seawalls as the highest priority” for building resilience against the anticipated impacts of climate change (emphasis added). Weymouth’s coastal protection infrastructure consists of a complex system of jetties, revetments, and seawalls, most of which were constructed in the 1950-60s and have fallen into disrepair. Planning for the reconstruction of this infrastructure (particularly our seawalls) is the top action listed in our CBR Risk Matrix. Our MVP Planning Report also states that among this infrastructure, “an area identified with immediate need is along Fort Point Road.”
Communities who complete a MVP Planning Grant become certified "MVP Communities" and are eligible for Action Grant funding and other opportunities through the Commonwealth.
Fort Point Road concept drawing with replaced seawall, raised approximately 24 inches
- Landscape Renderings of Plans, 2019
- Fort Point Road Seawall Permitting Level Plans June 2019
- Fort Point Road Seawall Presentation March 21, 2019
- MVP Program Information
- Weymouth MVP Final Report