Work on the £100m Boston Barrier flood defence in the UK began with a ground-breaking ceremony.
Boston Barrier is an Environment Agency scheme that is aimed at protecting 14,000 Lincolnshire homes and businesses from tidal flooding.
BMMJV, a joint venture of Bam Nuttall and Mott MacDonald, had secured the contract to build the Boston Barrier.
Work to dredge more than 5,000m3 of silt from the Boston Haven to make way for construction has already begun.
Over the coming months, 2,000 tonnes of steel sheeting will be put in place to strengthen the riverbanks in preparation for the barrier.
The works are expected to be completed by the end of 2020. Upon completion, Boston is expected to become one of the best-protected areas from tidal flooding outside London.
The scheme will include a moveable gate across the River Witham, a new control building to operate the barrier, new flood defence walls on both banks, and a replacement gate across the entrance to the existing Port of Boston wet dock.
When not in use, the 25m wide hydraulic-powered gate will lay flat on the riverbed, but will be raised to close off the river when flooding is expected, preventing high tides on the North Sea from raising river levels in the town.
Floods Minister Therese Coffey said: “This government investment will make sure Boston is one of the best protected towns on the east coast and I am proud to be putting the first spade in the ground on this project.
“The Boston Barrier is part of our plan to invest £229m over the next four years to make sure the risk of flooding to 49,000 homes and businesses in Lincolnshire is significantly reduced.”
Environment Agency executive director of operations Toby Willison said: “This state-of-the-art defence will help protect Boston’s communities and businesses from the kind of flooding the town experienced in December 2013.
“It’s yet another example of the brilliant work our teams are doing up and down the country to better protect people from flooding, and recently we’ve reached a milestone of an extra 100,000 homes protected.”
Boston was flooded in 1953, 1978, and more than 800 properties across 55 streets were flooded during the tidal surge in December 2013 when defences were over-topped, damaged or breached.