NYC marks 10th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy with $8.5 billion in future infrastructure needs


New York Construction Report staff writer

New York City marked the 10-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy this week by breaking ground on the Brooklyn Bridge-Montgomery Coastal Resilience (BMCR) project, which will install a combination of flood walls and deployable flip-up barriers to protect the Two Bridges neighborhood of Manhattan from a 100-year coastal storm surge.

Also, the Climate Strong Communities (CSC) program was announced this week as part of the city’s strategic climate strategy, to help create the next pipeline of resiliency projects that target multiple types of hazards. Projects will focus on neighborhoods that did not benefit from existing or planned Sandy recovery projects.

“With the addition of BMCR, DDC is rebuilding more than three continuous miles of Manhattan’s east side for resiliency and to enhance recreation areas and open spaces,” said New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner Thomas Foley. “This is a remarkable transformation over the course of just a few years to make these communities safer and provide a higher quality of life for residents.

“DDC builds other resilient infrastructure all over the city, including rain gardens and storm sewers, and we’ll be on the front lines of future cloudburst projects that protect specific communities from high intensity rainstorms. As we look to further protect the city from climate change, capital project reform will be essential.”

Mayor Eric Adams also called on the federal government to create a coastal infrastructure formula funding program and provide $8.5 billion in pre-disaster mitigation grant funding to enable New York City to complete critical resiliency projects, including:

  • Coney Island Creek Raise Shoreline
  • Bushwick Inlet Park
  • Coney Island Boardwalk & Beach
  • East Harlem Coastal Resiliency
  • Financial District and Seaport Climate Resilience Master Plan
  • Manhattan Waterfront Greenway
  • Wetlands Management Framework for New York City
  • Forest Management Framework for New York City
  • Tibbets Brook Daylighting Project
  • Raise Shorelines 2.0

“Ten years ago, flooded subways, a weeklong blackout downtown, billions in property damage, and 44 of our neighbors killed tragically showed what climate change can do to our city,” Adams said. “Sandy wasn’t just a storm; it was a warning.

“New York City’s infrastructure projects are more complex, novel, and unparalleled compared to any other American city, but many remain in various stages of completion, and we need our partners in the federal government to help provide us with regular and reliable resiliency funding of approximately $8.5 billion.”

BMCR will reduce flooding risk — from both sea level rise and storm surge — with deployable barriers that are permanent infrastructure, hidden until they are flipped up in the event of a storm. The location of the flood walls and posts has been designed to minimize conflict with subsurface infrastructure.

“Tools like Progressive Design Build, which the Capital Process Reform Task Force included in its initial recommendations, are essential to our ability to build the resilient public works projects that our city needs,” said First Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo.

Superstorm Sandy measured 1,000 miles wide and took a rare westward hook that put New York City in the path of its onshore wind. It made a historic impact on the city, making landfall on October 29, 2012. With a wind field three times the size of Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy resulted in the deaths of 44 New Yorkers, flooded 51 miles (71 percent) of city land, left 2.5 million residents without power, resulted in $19 billion in damages and lost economic activity, rendered 35,000 residents temporarily or permanently displaced, and caused damage to more than 9,100 homes.

Recognizing that construction projects need faster groundbreakings and completions, Adams also pledged to work with state lawmakers to pass legislation that would empower the city to use progressive design-build.

State law currently requires a two-step procurement process: One step for a request for qualifications and another for a request for proposals. With the passage of progressive design-build, the city can quickly select a vendor before the full scope of the project has been established.

This would facilitate early-stage collaboration to investigate existing conditions, examine engineering and construction challenges, and agree on solutions before determining a final scope and price. Further, it would result in fewer disruptions for residents, fewer changes for contractors while projects are underway, money spent more efficiently, and better projects for New Yorkers.

“This innovative flood protection system enhances the community everyday, and is a critical example of what we need our state and federal partners to support in every neighborhood,” said Amy Chester, managing director, Rebuild by Design.


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