News report: Amtrak study finds Northeast Corridor at risk from climate change

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Amtrak's operations center for the Northeast Corridor, located in Wilmington, Del., is at risk of climate-change-related flooding, according to a news report.
Al DiCenso

NEW YORK — Several locations on the Northeast Corridor risk inundation from rising waters as a result of climate change, according to a report prepared for Amtrak.

Bloomberg reports that the three-volume study, “Amtrak NEC Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment,” was prepared by two consulting firms and was completed in April 2017. Bloomberg obtained a partially redacted version through a public records request.

At significant risk, according to the Amtrak document, is a 10-mile stretch of track near Wilmington, Del., where the Corridor runs near the Delaware River, and Amtrak’s Consolidated National Operations Center in Wilmington, located adjacent to the Christina River.

The report recommended the construction of temporary flood barriers that can be installed prior to a storm and removed afterward. Those walls would cost $24 million per track mile, and estimated the total cost of protecting the Wilmington area at $78 million. The Amtrak document also suggested a similar detailed analysis of risks to the rest of the corridor; a section analyzing the full costs and benefits of protecting the corridor was redacted.

Data provided to Bloomberg by a climate scientist suggests chronic inundation — defined as flooding twice or more per month — is also possible in the area of New Haven, Conn., and in New York and New Jersey.

The Bloomberg article notes that Amtrak’s most recent strategic plan made no mention of climate-change issues, although it was added following Bloomberg’s inquiry, and quotes Stephen Gardner, Amtrak executive vice president and chief commercial officer as saying in a November interview, “We don’t see any fundamental risks to the integrity of the corridor.”

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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