By Madeline Urbish
New York City is committing $100 million into a flood protection project to prevent the type of devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy from affecting lower Manhattan. The protective system will cover an area from West 57th street south to Battery Park and back up to East 42nd street. The infrastructure will protect 10 continuous miles in lower Manhattan from flooding cause by storm surges and stormwater. The measure will include levees, flood walls, and more park land giving stormwater a place to go during and after a storm.
The City is hoping to leverage its investment to bring more federal funds to the project. The City has entered a National Disaster Resilience Competition (NRDC) administered by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation’s Rebuild by Design, hoping to win up to $500 million to finance the Big U project. The $1 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-RD) funds will go to eligible states, counties, and cities to help them recover from prior federally declared disasters and improve their ability to withstand and recover from future events.
The City already advanced through the first phase of the NRDC and was approved to move to Phase 2 in late June of this year. As part of the second phase, the City identified its specific project for implementation, titled the “Lower Manhattan Protect and Connect Project.” The proposal is based on a design by Bjark Ingels Group, which they titled the Big U. The proposed coastal resiliency project integrates both hard and natural structures as a means of protection, including berms and green stormwater solutions. The plan also incorporates investment in resilient affordable housing by funding adaptation of neighborhood infrastructure to protect communities against climate stressors. The draft plan is open for a public comment period beginning on September 4th and ending October 3rd at midnight.
According to its proposed plan, the City would spend $335 million constructing a berm along the Lower East Side, and $45 million for protecting Hunts Point market, which supplies over half the city’s produce, meat, and fish. The money will go towards evaluating integrated coastal protection, workforce development, energy, stormwater resiliency, and an emergency maritime supply chain for food supply protection. Staten Island University Hospital was also awarded $28 million to elevate critical building power and mechanical systems, to install sanitary holding tanks and backflow prevention, and to make major wind resiliency and roofing improvements. The overall project is expected to take five to seven years to design and build, and the City has already begun surveying the initial construction site. The total estimated cost of construction is approximately $633 million. The total cost of the project including fifty years of maintenance and operations expenses is estimated to be $1 billion, with a predicted benefit to the region and country of $6.46 billion.
HUD advanced 40 applications to the second phase of the NRDC including: New Jersey, Cook County, IL, California, West Virginia, St. Tammany Parish, LA, Virginia, Massachusetts, Dauphin County, PA, Puerto Rico, Shelby, County, TN, New Orleans, LA, and Chicago IL, among others. The NRDC was established to encourage communities to pursue innovative, science-based projects that address simultaneously address their recovery needs from previous disasters and enhance their economic and environmental resiliency to withstand future events. The Rockefeller Foundation, through its partnership with HUD, is offering technical assistance and training workshops for eligible applicants to help them consider future risk sand vulnerabilities in planning and decision-making. Phase 2 applications are due on October 27th and HUD plans to announce the successful proposals in January 2016.
For more information, contact Madeline Urbish at firstname.lastname@example.org.