NY Reveals Designs for Coastal Resiliency Project
New York City officials recently unveiled the designs for the Financial District-Seaport Climate Resilience Plan as a part of the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency project.
The proposal was presented during two virtual open house events held by New York’s Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor’s Office of Climate Resiliency last month. Officials estimate that the cost of the proposal is $5 billion to $7 billion and currently have no set date for completion, but expect it will take 15-20 years.
“New York City will see up to two and half feet of sea level rise by the 2050s, six feet by 2100 so planning for the future of our city is imperative,” said Carrie Grassi, Deputy Director with the NYC Mayor’s Office for Climate Resiliency.
“The only way New York survives as the greatest city in the world 100 years from now is by effectively deploying a solution to this problem,” said Capt. Jonathan Boulware, CEO of South Street Seaport Museum.
The potential future of the Lower Manhattan waterfront is expected to be revealed Wednesday night at a virtual public meeting. However, @VMurdockTV got an early look at the plan earlier in the day. https://t.co/sulBM7aqIb— CBS New York (@CBSNewYork) November 17, 2021
The plan features a two-tiered mile-long waterfront between The Battery and the Brooklyn Bridge with flood walls and gates 15 to 18 feet higher than current waterfront. The lower level will be three to five feet higher than the current walkway. The upper level walkway will potentially host single- or two-story structures like restaurants
The proposal also plans to extend shoreline as far as 200 feet into East River, with a portion of the new land being utilized for park or plaza space.
Several piers and a heliport will be rebuilt higher than they currently are, including the Whitehall Ferry Terminal which operates the Staten Island Ferry. Officials are currently unsure of whether they will be able to maintain flood resiliency with the FDR viaduct, a “defining feature of this waterfront,” so the plan can be implemented with or without the bridge.
Construction is planned for new drainage infrastructure, including a pump station. In preserving the East River’s ecosystem, the proposal features ecological preservation strategies like creating a structured habitat and conserving the beach under the Brooklyn Bridge.
EDC Vice President of Waterfronts Elijah Hutchinson stated a climate resilience master plan for the Financial District and Seaport and a project roadmap are planned to be released by the end of the year.
“The Seaport master plan is that important missing link,” Hutchinson said.
Previous NY Coastal Resiliency Projects
Last year, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that construction on a $336 million coastal resiliency project was officially kicking off.
“Eight years ago, Hurricane Sandy devastated our city and our shoreline,” said de Blasio at the time. “We committed to building back stronger than ever, and I am thankful for our federal and state partners for working together to make this critically important project come to life. Together, we are protecting our shoreline and creating a more resilient New York City.”
The city, the state's Department of Environmental Conservation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have all partnered together on the Rockaways-Atlantic Shorefront project.
Back in 2012, Hurricane Sandy rocked the beaches of New York, damaging or completely destroying more than 1,000 structures on the Rockaway Peninsula, which were reportedly 10 feet high. In addition to damaging the infrastructure, the storm also displaced approximately 1.5 million cubic yards of sand from Rockaway Beach across adjacent communities and/or washed out to sea.
While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers replaced the loss with 3.5 million cubic yards of sand to restore the beach’s design profile and improve resiliency against erosion and coastal flooding, officials knew that additional actions would still need to be take to protect coastal communities from future flooding, severe weather events, and other impacts in the Rockaways caused by climate change.
“Climate change is already impacting our everyday lives, and the Rockaways are at the forefront of damaging flooding from strong and more frequent coastal storms driven by warmer temperatures,” Cuomo said. “New York State is proud to partner on this project as part of our ongoing efforts to help New York City and communities across the state build back stronger, smarter and more resilient.”
According to reports, the shorefront project involves the construction of six miles of storm surge flood protection along the Queens waterfront. However, the first phase of the project will see the building out and restoration of nearly 20 stone groin structures—similar to rock jetties—into the ocean to prevent additional sand erosion.
The rehabilitation and construction of these flood barriers are expected to provide stabilization for a re-nourished sand beach and dune and maintain the protective beach profile, as well as help to restore local ecosystems and ensure the long-term viability of endangered species.
Following these efforts, crews intend to reinforce a network of dunes with stone and steel sheet pile walls, achieving a height two feet higher than the original structure, and further protecting the coast from wave breaking pressure. The new structures are also slated to limit surge inundation and cross-peninsula flooding.
Additional sand will also be added to this portion of the beach.
Suffolk County's H&L Contracting LLC will lead construction on the first portion, under a $114 million contract, while an additional $237 million plan to build berms and floodwalls in Jamaica Bay is still in the design process.
"The Rockaways-Atlantic Shorefront Project will bring much needed relief to Rockaway Beach and surrounding communities, limiting coastal flooding and erosion over six miles of shoreline," said Alex Zablocki, Executive Director of the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy.
The project is slated to reach completion by 2024.