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Spectacle Island Coastal Processes Study

A shoreline modeling analysis was performed to assist in the development of a practical maintenance plan for the shoreline of Spectacle Island, in Boston Harbor. The island has been historically the site of a landfill, but recently has been recreated into an island park as part of the Boston Central Artery/Tunnel Project. Approximately 3600 feet of the west and south shoreline is sand/cobble beach, which is the area of focus for this study. Along this sand portion of the island shoreline, a large pier has been constructed to provide a sheltered area for ferry and recreational boats to dock. The remainder of the island shoreline is armored by a continuous large stone revetment. To determine the local sediment transport pathways associated with the observed shoreline change, an in-depth scientific analysis was performed to quantitatively evaluate wave and longshore sediment transport processes that influence sand movement along the sandy shoreline of the island. Waves provide the driving forces governing erosion and the observed accretion/erosion along the study area shoreline. Along the sandy shoreline of Spectacle Island, approaching waves are locally generated by winds or by wakes from boat traffic. To predict areas of wave energy concentration and the direction of waves approaching the shoreline, a wave refraction analysis was performed. This analysis computed the nearshore wave climate at Spectacle Island based on wind and wave data from offshore Boston Harbor, in Massachusetts Bay, and also boat wake data from the recent Boston University study. The wave modeling predicted the major effects of long-term average wave conditions on the beach area and provided the basis for determining trends in sediment transport direction. The distribution of nearshore wave energy developed by this modeling was utilized to drive the shoreline change/longshore sediment transport model. Once the shoreline change model was calibrated to historic conditions, the model was utilized to evaluate engineered options for the maintenance of the public recreational resource.

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