Northeast Corridor vulnerable to flooding

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Northeast Corridor vulnerable to flooding

Postby lpetrich » Mon Dec 24, 2018 8:18 pm

Rising Waters Are Drowning Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor at bloomberg.com -- not yet, but over the decades, melting glaciers may raise the sea level enough to flood parts of the NEC.
“If one of the segments of track shuts down, it will shut down this segment of the NEC,” warned members of Amtrak’s planning staff. “There is not an alternate route that can be used as a detour.”

That was the conclusion of a three-volume, multi-year climate study undertaken with first Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. and then Stantec Inc. Although the report was completed in April 2017, its conclusions were kept private until this November, when a partially redacted version was obtained by Bloomberg through a public records request.

The article showed three vulnerable spots in the NEC: near Wilmington DE, near New Haven CT, and near New York City.

These vulnerable spots are near cities with vulnerable spots, and nearly all the cities on the Northeast Corridor have some vulnerable spots. Much of the NEC is inland, however, with the exception of NYC - New Haven - Providence. Most of that part of the NEC is very close to the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound.

Outside the Northeast, Amtrak's busiest part is in California, and much of the San Francisco Bay Area is very vulnerable to sea-level rise. Also vulnerable is the Oxnard / Santa Barbara line and the Oceanside / San Diego line. The in-between part, in Los Angeles, is more inland.

Of the cities with less Amtrak traffic, Seattle and Portland have some vulnerable spots, and the entire cities of Norfolk, Charleston, Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, New Orleans, and Houston are vulnerable.
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Re: Northeast Corridor vulnerable to flooding

Postby charlesriverbranch » Mon Dec 24, 2018 8:35 pm

Wasn't there a plan to rebuild the old "air line" route across Connecticut and Rhode Island as a high speed rail corridor?
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Re: Northeast Corridor vulnerable to flooding

Postby TomNelligan » Mon Dec 24, 2018 9:19 pm

If sea levels rise as predicted, a LOT more than the NEC will be in trouble, but given the current political climate I won't hold my breath waiting for action until a crisis hits decades from now.

As for rebuilding the Air Line, that idea has been tossed out now and then but it won't happen because of the line's challenging topography, NIMBYs and trail people who will melt down at the prospect of restoring trackage east of Portland, CT, that's been gone for 50 years, and the fact that any route that missed Providence (the NH's "Air Line" route between New York and Boston ran via Putnam) would be a nonstarter.
Last edited by TomNelligan on Mon Dec 24, 2018 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Northeast Corridor vulnerable to flooding

Postby lpetrich » Mon Dec 24, 2018 11:04 pm

charlesriverbranch wrote:Wasn't there a plan to rebuild the old "air line" route across Connecticut and Rhode Island as a high speed rail corridor?

Yes, in some discussions of future upgrades to the NEC, I've seen proposals for an inland route going roughly New Rochelle - Hartford - Boston. That would have the more immediate plus of being able to avoid the bridges along the existing route, bridges that are opened some of the time for boaters in nearby towns.
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Re: Northeast Corridor vulnerable to flooding

Postby lpetrich » Mon Dec 24, 2018 11:07 pm

TomNelligan wrote:If sea levels rise as predicted, a LOT more than the NEC will be in trouble, but given the current political climate I won't hold my breath waiting for action until a crisis hits decades from now.

Yes, and any attempt to make coastal northeastern cities more flood-resistant will likely make the nearby parts of the NEC also more flood-resistant. So the big problem will be the parts of the NEC away from big cities, like along the Connecticut coast.
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