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Army Corps Proposes $20B Floodwall for NYC

Monday, July 16, 2018

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In a bid to protect New York City’s waterfront from another storm like Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers presented several options for a $20 billion barrier that would stretch 2,150 square miles along the harbor.

The idea has already come under fire from environmental groups, however, which argue that the implementation of a barrier would inflict “a slow death” on the river.

Barrier Designs

These kinds of barriers are already used in countries like the Netherlands, where the Delta Works protects the southwestern part of the country. In many of these structures, the gates are kept open most of the time to allow ships to pass, as well as to allow water to circulate. When a hurricane approaches, the gates close.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' $20 billion proposal would take years to plan and build, and while concerns over environmental impact remain high, others are saying that the barriers are a more secure, centralized way of protecting the region, rather than the piecemeal attempts already in place.

© iStock.com / Melpomenem

In a bid to protect New York City’s waterfront from another storm like Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers presented several options for a $20 barrier that would stretch 2,150 square miles along the harbor.

In a number of public information sessions last week, the Corps revealed five options for protecting the area's waterfront, four of which include storm surge barriers:

  • a 5-mile barrier at the southernmost border of the lower bay, between Sandy Hook and Breezy Point;
  • a smaller barrier between Staten Island and Brooklyn, with gates across the mouth to Jamaica Bay and Arthur Kill;
  • a series of berms and sea walls along low-lying portions of both the New Jersey and New York City waterfronts, including small gates across some waterways; 
  • an option that only uses sea walls and berms; and
  • no action taken.

Plan Criticism

State Sen. Terrence Murphy, a Hudson Valley Republican accused the Corps of fast-tracking these proposals without adequate public notice and involvement.

“The health of the Hudson River Estuary, from the Atlantic Ocean to Troy, New York, and the health and existence of its native species, depends on unrestricted tidal flow between the river and the sea,” John Lipscomb, vice president of advocacy for the environmental organization Riverkeeper, said in a statement.

“We know that intense storms are becoming more frequent and something must be done, but let’s put in the time and thought and have the public comment needed to make informed decisions,” Murphy said.

The Riverkeeper organization says that the only acceptable proposal is one that includes shoreline-based floodwalls and levees, along with the natural protection offered by landscape features beaches, dunes and waterfront parks.

Superstorm Sandy caused $70 billion in damage in the region in 2012.

   

Tagged categories: concrete; Government; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Steel; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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