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Will a Huge New Flood Barrier Save Venice?

Finally, construction is finishing on the delayed barrier to protect the city from high tides. But how well will it actually work?
Tourists walk on raised platforms during a period of seasonal high water in Venice in February 2015.
Tourists walk on raised platforms during a period of seasonal high water in Venice in February 2015. Stefano Rellandini/Reuters

VENICE—On a gray, late-winter day, a converted chapel in the Arsenal, the city’s medieval boatyard, hummed with 21st-century activity. Engineers were looking at screens that displayed tables, maps, and charts on the conditions of the Venetian Lagoon.

This was the MOSE control center: the operational heart of a megaproject to protect Venice, one of the world’s most beautiful cities, from threatening waters. For nearly seven years, the engineers here have raised and lowered virtual doors, gathering a series of data to be conveyed into a sophisticated forecasting model.