With only seven months before he makes his final departure from his post as mayor, there is speculation that Mayor Bloomberg wants to end his term by building barriers along they NYC waterfront to protect against future storms. A number of sources say that the mayor will propose the installation of several removable steel panels in key flood-prone areas, including a permanent barricade at Newtown Creek, a toxic waterway that sits between Brooklyn and Queens. The verdict is still out about whether the mayor’s possible plans will actually be effective and worth the price tag to prevent major damage to the city during hurricanes to come.
After Hurricane Sandy hit the city back in October, Governor Cuomo also proposed installing barriers, which would cost the city a hefty $10 billion to build. However, experts disagree that this is the only way to go. In an interview with Science Daily, Catherine Seavitt Nordenson, associate professor of landscape architecture in CCNY’s Spitzer School of Architecture, argued that these protective barriers run the risk of increasing impact in other areas where the water would eventually disperse.
Another solution on the table is a pilot program in Staten Island that would include manmade islands and wetlands. Installation of this kind of giant sponge offers a soft infrastructure concept that would use a natural ecology technique to absorb the water, reduce storm damage and disperse wave energy. This option would cost the city a few million to install—not the billions of dollars proposed by using barriers. NY1 also reports that the mayor’s team is still speaking with experts and no final decisions have been made.
“I think we have to do what Governor Cuomo has asked for, and that’s [sic] is an engineering analysis of storm surge barriers across the major entrances to New York Harbor, Rockaway to Sandy Hook, and then the East River,” said oceanographer Malcolm Bowman to NY1. “Because nothing less will protect the major airports, the shipping facilities, all the infrastructure that we saw devastated during Sandy.”