Mid-Atlantic
The Anacostia River runs along Washington Navy Yard. Photographer: Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg

The Navy Wants to Build a Wall to Stave Off Climate Change

The Navy is considering erecting a 14-foot flood wall around the Washington Navy Yard to protect the historic complex along the Anacostia River from rising sea levels, internal Department of Defense documents show. Established in 1799 as a shipbuilding facility and port, the Navy Yard is the service’s oldest installation.

Military engineers proposed the wall in a study, obtained by Bloomberg News through a public-records request, that describes a structure as long as 1.5 miles, to protect three dozen buildings at a cost of as much as $20 million. It’s the latest example of a federal agency getting ready for climate change, despite the Trump administration’s public dismissal of the threat.

The department has been considering a wall at the sprawling complex -- which sits on a revitalized waterfront in the nation’s capital -- since at least September 2016. That’s when it invited Andrew Lewis, a historic preservation specialist with the District of Columbia’s planning office, to visit the Navy Yard and discuss the idea. Lewis says he told officials that his office generally preferred to avoid building in front of historic structures.

“It’s likely that something like that would have an adverse effect,” Lewis said in a phone interview Thursday. He said that whether the city would oppose the project would depend on the specifics, such as the material used for the wall, its exact route and what steps the department took to respond to concerns.

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