Seaport secures $ 110 million ‘down payment’ on flood protection

City officials say plans to raise the bulkhead adjacent to the seaport would protect the neighborhood from a storm similar to Hurricane Sandy, which passed the barrier about four feet. Photo: Carl Glassman / Tribeca Trib

In an effort to protect some $ 400 million of critical seaport property and infrastructure from storms, the city is committing $ 110 million to surround the area.

Mayor de Blasio announced the investment just days before the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, which on October 28, 2012 devastated the low-lying neighborhood.

“We must ensure that families, businesses and communities in Lower Manhattan, one of the most densely populated parts of our city, are protected from the accelerated effects of climate change,” de Blasio said in a statement. “This project does exactly that, ensuring that some of the most vulnerable areas can continue to thrive for generations to come.”

The 5-year project, which will begin next year, involves the reconstruction and elevation of the bulkhead along the waterfront from 3 to 5 feet, roughly between the Brooklyn Bridge and Pier 17. It includes also improving drainage in the area. Officials do not have an estimate of the cost of the entire project. The $ 110 million, they say, should only cover the design and start of construction, with the city seeking additional funding from the federal government and other sources.

The completed project is expected to protect about 15 acres of this vulnerable section of Lower Manhattan from tidal flooding in the 2100s, officials say. Experts say that over the next 25 years, sea level is expected to rise by about 2.5 feet. If nothing is done, they say, the harbor’s waterfront will be inundated every month by high tides.

The project is a stand-alone part of the city’s financial district and seaport climate resilience master plan, due for release next month, which will suggest ways to protect Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge near the ferry terminal. of Staten Island. Officials from the Mayor’s Office for Climate Resilience say such a massive challenge would require building in the East River up to 250 feet, a project that could take two decades and cost between $ 5 billion and $ 7 billion.

Meanwhile, partial funding for the recently announced, much smaller project is a “down payment” on what will be needed to protect the seaport and financial district, said Catherine McVay Hughes, a leading advocate for resilience. to the flooding of Lower Manhattan. “We look forward to further investment and commitment from the next administration and beyond,” she said.

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Elaine R. Knight

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