Mayor Bloomberg Proposes $20 Billion in Flood Walls, Sand Dunes to Shield Against Future Storms

Debris sits on a Staten Island beach damaged by flooding from Hurricane Sandy. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Debris sits on a Staten Island beach damaged by flooding from Hurricane Sandy. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg outlined a nearly $20 billion master plan Tuesday to shield the city from future Hurricane Sandys, complete with levees, sand dunes, bulkheads, flood walls and a proposed “Seaport City.”

The plan calls for the installation of removable “adaptable floodwalls” in riverfront locations across the city, including Hunts Point in the Bronx, along the East Harlem waterfront, the Lower East Side and the Financial District, as well as a new levee and floodwall system along the East Shore of Staten Island, with barriers that could rise as high as 15 to 20 feet.

The proposal, which the mayor is set to outline in a major speech at Brooklyn Navy’s Yard’s Sandy-damaged Duggal Greenhouse, also calls for the construction of a new dune systems in Staten Island and the Rockaway Peninsula, with a “double dune” planned for Breezy Point.

While the mayor has less than seven months left in office, he also proposed building a new “Seaport City” on the east side of Manhattan, similar to the existing Battery Park City near the Financial District. The new development, which could stretch all the way to Brooklyn, would be built on “a multi-purpose levee with raised edge elevations,” designed to protect the East River shoreline south of the Brooklyn Bridge, while creating a new mini-neighborhood.

Mr. Bloomberg, who has previously said that a sea wall plan was “not practical,” also wants to build a storm surge barrier at Newtown Creek and along Coney Island Creek, and announced plans to work with the  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study the feasibility adding “surge barriers” across the mouth of Jamaica Bay to protect communities in Queens.

The suggestions stem from a 430-page “A Stronger, More Resilient New York” report commissioned after Sandy, which contains more than 250 recommendations to fortify the city against climate change, which a city panel found could boost sea levels by more than 2.5 feet by the 2050s,  increase rainfall, and send temperatures soaring–leading to damaging and dangerous heat waves.

The total cost of all 250 recommendations is nearly $20 billion, which the city proposes paying for through a combination of city capital funding and federal aid.

“Hurricane Sandy made it all too clear that, no matter how far we’ve come, we still face real, immediate threats,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement released before the speech.

“These concrete recommendations for how to confront the risks we face will build a stronger more resilient New York. This plan is incredibly ambitious- and much of the work will extend far beyond the next 200 days – but we refused to pass the responsibility for creating a plan onto the next administration,” he said. “This is urgent work, and it must begin now.”