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April 22, 2014

A Summer at Massport

by adriaboynton

This summer, I’ll be working at the Massachusetts Port Authority in East Boston.  Massport is an independent public authority that oversees major transportation related infrastructure in the state of Massachusetts.  This infrastructure includes Boston Logan International Airport, Hanscom Airfield, the Port of Boston, and hundreds of acres of waterfront property.  Massport has recently created a new position within the Department of Capital Programs & Environmental Affairs focused on resilience.  This position studies how existing infrastructure can be more resilient to future man-made or environmental threats.  These concerns include global warming, the rising sea level, and superstorms like Hurricane Sandy.

ImageNautical chart of Boston Harbor, US Harbors: Massachusetts.

ImageAerial views of Logan Airport, facing southeast.  Photo on left by Michael Philip Manheim, 1973, US National Archives.  Photo on right from Google Earth.

Developing plans for the future resilience of transportation infrastructure is important because it affects an area with which everyone is involved.  Transportation is a crucial part of our daily lives but is largely underappreciated.  We expect it to be functioning smoothly at all times, yet any disruptions can block access to schools, workplaces, or safety.  In 2012, Boston Logan served nearly 30 million passengers.  A natural disaster would therefore affect travelers all over the world. And since airports are a primary platform for receiving aid, damage to an airport like Boston Logan could be crippling for a region struck by an emergency.  Thinking resiliently can help prevent such scenarios by studying current conditions, preparing for future problems, and designing to ensure a rapid recovery phase.

ImageLogan Airspace Map, 2011, The Massachusetts Port Authority.

I will study transportation in terms of networks and connections operating at multiple scales.  I will also look at these systems in terms of time: time in relation to the short term and long term goals that Massport is developing for infrastructure resilience.  I will conduct precedent studies concerning resilient design strategies and compile this information into a library of design approaches.  I will present my findings, along with work by professionals within the resilience field, on a carefully curated website.  I will use the resulting collection of information to draft a set of guidelines for applying my findings to Massport’s facilities.

Adria Boynton

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