Six weeks after President Trump derided a potential NYC sea wall on Twitter, his administration abruptly ended the study that was looking into the idea. Launched in 2017, the NY & NJ Harbor and Tributaries feasibility study was evaluating five measures that could “address severe coastal storm risks” and the sea wall was one of them. On Tuesday, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that the critical study had been shelved due to a lack of funding and a report that was due to come out this summer would be “indefinitely postponed,” the New York Times reported. The curious timing relative to Trump’s tweet has led many to speculate about the political underpinnings behind the decision. “This is dangerous,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “It’s another of Donald Trump’s blatant political hits on New York City.”
Flooded Battery Park Tunnel after Hurricane Sandy. Image: Timothy Krause via Flickr.
A barrier wall proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers as one of several options being evaluated to shield the New York area from rare storms–which may well become less rare and more destructive with global warming–is the subject of a heated debate among planners and environmental experts. Supporters suggest that a barrier be constructed in the outer New York Harbor where it’s mostly hidden from view, saying it would go the farthest in protecting people, land and valuable landmarks along the waterfront from a storm surge. Others fear the idea is a short-sighted measure that doesn’t address major climate threats–and could even worsen matters by trapping sewage and toxins during flooding from high tides and storm runoff. President Donald Trump, however, remains the sole proponent of the mop-and-bucket approach, as the New York Daily News reports.
Photo via Pexels
Certain New York City buildings next year will be forced to share how energy efficient they are with the public. As part of the Climate Mobilization Act, passed by the city in April, structures that are 25,000 square feet and larger will be graded based on energy efficiency and mandated to post the rating in a “conspicuous” place in the building. As the New York Times reported, more than 40,000 of the city’s one million buildings will be issued report cards, similar to how the Health Department issues restaurants a prominently displayed food safety rating.
Rendering courtesy of the Department of Design and Construction
The $1.45 billion East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR), designed to protect a section of Manhattan’s east side from flooding, was approved on Thursday in a full City Council vote. The vote is the final City Council approval of the project, which passed the city’s land use committee earlier this week and is the culmination of a long and at-times controversial process. As 6sqft previously reported, the project was born in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and was designed to flood-proof over two miles of Manhattan’s east side between East 25th Street and Montgomery Street and improve waterfront access to waterfront space. According to the city, the ESCR project would protect over 110,000 New Yorkers.
A research center dedicated to climate change could open on Governors Island, the New York Times reported on Sunday. The city is seeking proposals for a “major center for climate adaptation research, commercialization, conversation, and policymaking,” to be built on the southern portion of the island, according to documents obtained by the Times. The city has looked to transform Governors Island into a 24/7 community since taking over control of the 172-acre site from the federal government in 2003.
De Blasio unveils $10B plan to flood-proof Lower Manhattan by extending shoreline into the East River, Thu, March 14, 2019
Via Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office
Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled on Thursday a $10 billion plan to extend the coastline of Lower Manhattan as much as 500 feet to protect from future floods. The Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency project is the result of a study that looked at ways to build resilience in low-lying neighborhoods like the Financial District and South Street Seaport. The study found the only feasible measure for these areas would be extending the shoreline about two city blocks into the East River by adding a new piece of land at or above 20 feet from current sea level.
Photos courtesy of Alex Ayer/Diversity Pics
Earlier this week The Garment District Alliance unveiled “Iceberg,” an immersive art installation on the Broadway pedestrian plazas along Broadway from West 37th to 38th Streets. Created by ATOMIC3 & Appareil Architecture, in collaboration with Jean-Sébastien Côté and Philippe Jean, the installation allows the public to generate a light and sound show as they pass through the metal arches of the installation, which react to the pace of each participant by turning different colors. But there’s more to it than pretty lights—the installation also carries an environmental message.
Via US Army Corps
In response to intensifying hurricanes that have hit the New York and New Jersey coastal region in recent years, the U.S. Army Corps is proposing a handful of measures to reduce the risk of storm damage. The proposals include constructing barriers, either in-water or land-based, and floodwalls that would stretch over 2,000 square miles across New York Habor to protect the area’s waterfront neighborhoods.
The barriers, already being used in cities like Stamford, Conn. and London, would have gates that remain open to let ships pass, but close when a hurricane is advancing (h/t WNYC). After completing a study that looked at nine high-risk areas, including 25 counties in NY and NJ, on the Atlantic Coast, the Corps this month will present the proposals at public information sessions across the two states.
Via ORG Permanent Modernity/Regional Plan Association
Released last fall, the Regional Plan Association’s (RPA) Fourth Plan includes 61 recommendations focused on improving and expanding the area’s deteriorating infrastructure, transportation, and affordability, much of which revolves around climate change and its transformation of the region. According to the report, more than one million people and 650,000 jobs are at risk of flooding due to rising sea levels. In the plan, the RPA ambitiously recommends that the New Jersey Meadowlands, 21,000 acres of low-lying wetlands, becomes a national park as a way to mitigate impacts of climate change (h/t Curbed). Designating the region’s largest wetland as a national park would restore the natural habits, protect nearby communities, and create a recreational space, becoming, the report says, a “Climate Change National Park.” The Meadowlands National Park would adapt and grow with climate change by drawing and redrawing the boundaries of the park as coastlines change.
Workers pumping seawater out of the L-train tunnel after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, photo courtesy of the MTA on Flickr
The subway’s crippling, century-old infrastructure is not the only reason behind the system’s constant delays and disruptions. The other problem involves about 13 million gallons of water, or more depending on the rainfall, that gets pumped out from underground on a nearly daily basis. A perpetual hazard, water can drip onto electrified equipment, cause a short and create chaos, as the New York Times reported. After ineffectively using only sandbags and plywood to fight flooding in the past, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has turned to more high-tech solutions, like flood-proof doors and inflatable gaskets, which will be a part of its $800 million emergency action plan to fix the subway.