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Boston Studying A Hurricane Barrier To Combat Flooding

BOSTON (CBS) -- With devastating flooding scenes coming out of Texas, some experts say Boston could experience its own catastrophic flooding in just a few decades.

"We get a major flood in a couple of decades and now, with higher seas, Boston is going to look like from the air the way it did in the 1770s. You're just going to see the high points," said Paul Kirshen, UMass Boston School for the Environment Professor and Academic Director of the school's Sustainable Solutions Lab.

Paul Kirshen (WBZ-TV)

While Houston grapples with rain, Kirshen said Boston's challenge will be more powerful hurricanes and high tides due to climate change.

That is why Kirshen and the Lab are now studying whether a massive hurricane barrier costing billions could protect Boston and surrounding communities from flooding.

"One of them would stretch from Winthrop here where Deer Island sewage treatment plant is, all the way to Hull," he said.

The yellow line represents Kirshen's proposed hurricane barrier (WBZ-TV)

The study aims to help the city of Boston determine solutions for flooding that could also have a major economic impact.

"We know by the end of the century, $85 billion dollars worth of assets will be in the FEMA flood plane," said Boston's Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space, Austin Blackmon.

In addition to considering a massive barrier, Blackmon says the city is considering more "shovel-ready" projects to protect areas vulnerable to flooding such as East Boston, Charlestown, and the Seaport District.

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