winthrop beach

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is in the midst of undertaking a $25 million shore protection project at Winthrop Beach. As anyone who watches TV news weather reports knows, during major storms, Winthrop Beach is routinely subject to overtopping of the seawall and major flooding of Winthrop Shore Drive and surrounding roads and properties. DCR’s much-needed shore protection project is designed to better fortify Winthrop Beach against the full force of northeast storms and natural beach erosion.

Work completed from 2012-2014 includes placement of approximately 500,000 cubic yards of storm protection berm material on the beach; reconstruction of five pre-existing stone groins; construction of a new terminal groin at the northerly end of the beach; and sea wall repairs and improvements to the Pearl Avenue beach entrance.  Work was completed in three phases:

Phase 1 - Structural Repairs to three groins on the southerly portion of the beach.  Completed in December 2012.

Phase 2 - Restoration of the southerly portion of the beach utilizing sediments that had naturally accreted behind the Winthrop Beach breakwaters known as “The Five Sisters.”  Completed in May 2013.

Phase 3 – Seawall repairs, upgrades to the Pearl Avenue entrance, and restoration of the northerly portion of the beach.  Material used for beach restoration included sand, gravel, and stone obtained from the abandoned Route 95 road bed in Rumney Marsh, Saugus, as well as rounded stone and cobble purchased from other sources.  Though some contract work remains to be completed at Rumney Marsh, placement of storm protection berm material was completed in December 2014.

Design is underway for the fourth phase of work – reconstruction of Winthrop Shore Drive. This phase entails full-width reconstruction of Winthrop Shore Drive, including widened handicapped-accessible sidewalks; installation of visitor amenities such as benches, bicycle racks, and shower towers at primary beach entryways;  repairs to sea wall railings; and upgrades to the storm water drainage system.  Phase four construction is planned to commence in the fall of 2016.

The Winthrop Beach Renourishment Project complements a separate project by expanding a planned salt marsh restoration at DCR’s Rumney Marsh Reservation in Saugus.   The Rumney Marsh restoration project is currently in the design refinement and permitting phase.    

Two Week Look Ahead

May 23, 2016 - June 5, 2016

Winthrop Beach

  • Maintenance grading of the cobbles on the north end of the beach will be ongoing through May 27
  • A beach monitoring survey will be performed from June 1 to June 8.  Expect to see surveyors on the beach and in a boat just off shore.
  • The contractor will be addressing miscellaneous project “punch list” items.

Rumney Marsh, Saugus

  •  The environmental monitor will observe conditions of the slopes and erosion control devices.
  • The contractor will be addressing miscellaneous project “punch list” items.
  • Planting in Area D is scheduled for June.

Design for Phase 4 – Winthrop Shore Drive Improvements

  • A meeting is planned for June (date and venue TBD) when the proposed design for the Winthrop Shore Drive improvements will be presented for public review and comment.


In response to resident concerns regarding the suitability of shore protection material placed on the beach, Tetra Tech, an engineering firm with substantial experience in coastal construction projects, has been commissioned by DCR to conduct an engineering peer review of the recently-completed project.  Tetra Tech is reviewing past studies, reports, permitting and construction documents to determine if the project was designed and built in accordance with sound coastal engineering practices.  Results of the peer review report will be presented by Tetra Tech at a public meeting scheduled for 6:30 pm on Tuesday May 31, 2016 at the Robert A. DeLeo Winthrop Senior Center – Council on Aging 35 Harvard Street, Winthrop.

Please note that street sweeping has resumed on Winthrop Shore Drive. It occurs every third Thursday of the month. Please remove cars from Shore Drive in advance of street sweeping or else they will be towed.

Questions or concerns about the project should be directed to DCR Resident Engineer Steve Colometo, at the DCR trailer behind the DCR bathhouse on Winthrop Shore Drive, by visit or phone (617-539-4957) during regular business hours,  Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.   In case of an emergency, contact 911 or DCR’s 24/7 emergency hotline at the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency at 508-820-1428.     

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