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Lower Manhattan Storm Surge Protection


Major Bill De Blasio is planning on building out 500 feet into the East River. “The massive plan is part of a multi-pronged approach to prevent storm surges and rising sea level from inundating lower Manhattan—20 percent of downtown is expected to flood daily in 100 years, according to the city.”[1] Under the plan, Lower Manhattan will be extended into the East River and add as much as two city blocks. The plan is estimated to cost nearly $10 Billion, but surely the return is twofold. In an ambitious plan, about $500 million will go towards flood protection measures such as infrastructure. The head of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, James Patchett, said that “there’s just no viable alternative but to build in the water.” This option calls for building out into the East River, which could even bring about the possibility of building schools and parks on top of that land.

The Lower Manhattan Climate Resilience Study presented by NYCEDC and by the City of New York outlines the climate risks and adaptation tools and approaches that the city needs to take to be better prepared for the changes that will inevitably come. The study looked solely on lower Manhattan and compared various factors including elevation, topography, and shoreline predictions. The study’s findings concluded that “by the 2050s, 37% of properties with a combined assessed value of $13 billion at risk from 100-year storm surge.”[2] There are various approaches that can be implemented to mitigate the possible damage by including flood walls, barriers, revetment, and dry flood proofing of buildings.

Specific aspects of the plan details the approaches that will be necessary in each neighborhood to be used against storm surges. The Two Bridges neighborhood will get “deployable flip-up barriers” that will cost nearly $200 million. Battery Park City will not only get a berm for additional support, but there will also be construction of an esplanade and a possible recreational open space. It is expected to cost around $165 million, and constructions will begin in 2020. These additional measures of protection come after Superstorm Sandy basically knocked out the city in 2012. This was a preview of how unexpected storms can seriously damage the city and bring it to a halt.

[1] Plitt A. and Spivack C. (March 2019), De Blasio unveils $10B resiliency plan to extend lower Manhattan into East River. Retrieved from NY Curbed Accessed on March 28, 2019

[2] NYCEDC and The City of New York, (March 2019), The Lower Manhattan Climate Resilience Study, Accessed on April 1, 2019

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