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New Bedford Hurricane Protection Barrier

New Bedford Hurricane Protection Barrier

The New Bedford Hurricane Protection Barrier lies across New Bedford and Fairhaven Harbor. It is approximately 50 miles south of Boston. The project protects about 1,400 acres in New Bedford, Fairhaven, and Acushnet from tidal flooding associated with hurricanes and coastal storms. This acreage is thickly settled with industrial and commercial properties, particularly along the waterfront and the shores of the Acushnet River. The area represents about 80 percent of land flooded in the September 1938 and August 1954 hurricanes, the latter storm causing $8.3 million in flood damages.

Construction of the New Bedford Hurricane Protection Barrier began in October 1962 and was completed in January 1966, costing $18.6 million. The project required the relocation of power cables, modification of sewerage and drainage facilities, and acquisition of a small boat yard, several buildings, and about 36 acres of land. The city maintains the project, with the exception of the navigation gates and the barrier extending across New Bedford and Fairhaven Harbor which are operated and maintained by the Corps. The project is divided into three principal features: a barrier extending across New Bedford and Fairhaven Harbor with an extension dike on the mainland; Clarks Cove Dike in New Bedford; and Fairhaven Dike. The project has prevented $24.1 million in flood damages and coastal tidal surge since it was built (as of September 2011).

The barrier extending across the harbor consists of a 4,500-foot-long earthfill dike with stone slope protection. The barrier has a maximum elevation of 20 feet and a 150-foot-wide gated opening to accommodate commercial and recreational navigation. It also has two gated conduits that are each nine feet high and six feet wide. The extension dike starts at the western end of the main dike and stretches for 4,600 feet along Rodney French Boulevard East. It has a maximum elevation of 22 feet. The extension dike has three circular gated conduits with diameters of two, three, and four feet, and a street gate on Rodney French Boulevard East.

Clarks Cove Dike consists of earthfill with stone slope protection. It is 5,800 feet long and extends around the north and east sides of the cove, tying to high ground at both ends. On the north side the dike has a maximum elevation of 22 feet, and on the east side the maximum elevation is 23 feet. The dike also has street gates at Rodney French Boulevard West and Cove Road, and a pumping station.

Fairhaven Dike consists of earthfill with stone slope protection. It starts at high ground near the foot of Lawton Street and runs easterly about 3,100 feet, with a maximum elevation of 20 feet. The dike also has a four-foot-diameter gated conduit.


- Updated: 11 June 2015