West Newbury Culvert One of Two State to Study; Likely to Become Tidal with Rising Sea Levels

River Road near Coffin Street April 4, 2024 during Nor’easter. (Courtesy photograph.)

The Department of Fish & Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration yesterday said it has selected a road-stream crossing in West Newbury as one of two sites for future ecological restoration studies.

The River Road Culvert in West Newbury is located on an unnamed stream off the Merrimack River. According to the state, “This crossing currently faces challenges with flooding and erosion and has the potential to be heavily influenced by increased storm events and sea level rise in the future. Conducting models of the way water moves at the site and investigating potential ecological improvements through restoration will enable a systematic approach to improving infrastructure and natural resource resiliency.”

Officials say culverts in West Newbury, along with Gloucester’s Concord Street Culvert along a tributary of Walker Creek, are expected to become tidal as sea levels rise—“a transition that presents significant challenges for road infrastructure. Division of Ecological Restoration is paying for and managing future studies to help communities, nearby landowners and partners identify and overcome technical challenges and plan for ecological restoration and climate adaptation.

“Ecological restoration provides innumerable benefits—projects like this will improve public safety, build resilience to sea-level rise, coastal erosion, and mitigate flooding and restore water quality and wildlife habitat,” said Department of Fish & Game Commissioner Tom O’Shea.

Division of Ecological Restoration Director Beth Lambert added “DER looks forward to helping these two communities evaluate and plan for sea level rise while building resilient, fish-friendly road-stream crossings.”

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