NEW YORK – A decade after Storm Sandy hit New York and New Jersey in one of the most expensive storms in US history, the federal government proposes a $ 52 billion plan to build movable barriers and gates on bays , rivers and other waterways in the two states most affected by the storm.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said on Monday that it had tentatively chosen an option for the daunting task of protecting the region from the type of storm surge that destroyed large sections of the coast and inland areas during the October 29, 2012 storm. .
The publication of the report came when Hurricane Ian crashed into Cuba on a route that would make it a potentially catastrophic Category 4 story when it reaches Florida, where 2.5 million people have been ordered to evacuate.
The proposal for New York and New Jersey includes the construction of movable sea doors in various industrial canals, bays and other urban waterways in New York City, the tidal strait that separates Staten Island from New Jersey and at the mouth of Hackensack and Pass the Rivers of the Garden State in the Meadows region.
The gates would remain open during lulls and may be closed when severe thunderstorms approach. But the proposed barriers have drawn opposition from property owners who care about what they would look like and environmentalists concerned about the negative effects on water quality and natural ecosystems.
Coastal barriers, including floodwalls, levees and causeways, would be built in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan in New York, and in Jersey City and Newark in New Jersey.
The plan also includes the integration of natural solutions such as the restoration of wetlands and the creation of “living shorelines”, with features such as colonies of oysters designed to mitigate the force of the waves arriving in various places to complete the engineering projects carried out. by men.
The works would not have started before 2030 and would not have been completed until 2044.
Kizzy Charles-Guzman, executive director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Climate and Environmental Justice, called the study “an important step toward a comprehensive coastal risk assessment along our port.”
“The densely populated and industrialized region of New York-New Jersey Harbor is among the nation’s most threatened by extreme storm events caused by climate change,” added Shawn LaTourette, New Jersey Environmental Commissioner.
Robert Freudenberg, vice president of the Regional Plan Association, said the proposal “goes a long way to protect areas that are currently not protected.” He warned that the support of local communities is crucial to any plan implemented.
The study aims to protect critical infrastructure and population centers that have been flooded by Sandy.
“In the event of a severe storm, deployable storm surge barriers, navigable gates and flood barriers would help reduce the risk of flood-related damage to vulnerable areas, including loss of life and damage to infrastructure,” he says. the report. “Within the reduced risk areas are schools, parks, energy and transport infrastructure, containers and other freight terminals, which would see significant benefit through the implementation of the study’s measures.”
The plan presented this week replaces an earlier proposal for a single six-mile retractable gate between the Rockaways in Queens and Sandy Hook in New Jersey.
The study is similar, but much larger, to an ongoing Army Corps study in New Jersey’s rear bays, where flooding caused significant damage during Sandy in areas far from the ocean.
This study proposes retractable gates and barriers at the mouths of several New Jersey inlets, as well as at the center of the bays to mitigate the force of the storm surges. It would cost $ 16 billion.
There is no guarantee that Congress will fund all of this; it initially refused to provide $ 60 billion in aid to the region after Sandy struck, before giving in. But Freudenberg of the Regional Plan Association said Army Corps projects tend to be funded at a higher rate than other spending claims, calling this proposal “as close to secured funding as possible.”
Even if the funding was approved, the federal government would only cover 65% of the cost, leaving the rest to states and local communities.
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