Thursday, July 12, 2018



Project scoping begins for massive NY Harbor sea wall

Wisemilleer: "... no proposals to
construct anything"

POUGHKEEPSIE – Over 200 people joined officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, State Department of Environmental Conservation and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in Poughkeepsie Wednesday evening, to discuss preliminary studies to mitigate coastal storm surges along the New York-New Jersey seaboard. It was the last of five identical presentations made regionally.

Environmental watchdog Riverkeeper sent out an alert, which attracted the large audience. "The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering six different plans for massive offshore barriers and/or land-based floodwalls intended to 'manage the risk of coastal storm damage' to New York Harbor and the Hudson Valley. Several of these alternatives could threaten the very existence of the Hudson as a living river,” the group wrote.

Not so fast, countered Bryce Wisemiller, project manager for US Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, who leads the New York/New Jersey Harbor & Tributaries Focus Area Feasibility Study.

"There are no proposals to construct anything," Wisemiller said. “The Corps would not even be in the position to recommend anything for construction unless after the years of study we would have a plan that is economically justified by how the Corps evaluates it, that is environmentally acceptable, to which we have very little information on that right now, and is supported by the non-federal sponsor or sponsors.”

Six scenarios comprise the study, to protect the NY-NJ harbor. The first, do nothing. Choice number two is to spend $30-50 billion reinforcing the coastlines, and installing gigantic sea gates at Throgs Neck, and Rockaway or Verrazano Narrows. Smaller versions lower the cost down to $2 to $4 billion.

Attendees study maps, displays

Designed for a 100-year storm event, the sea gates would be built to biblical proportions, rivaling the Panama Canal in scope. Surge levels of 20 feet are calculated into the engineering specifications. Wisemiller showed photos of related projects in Louisiana, London, and Rotterdam.

"These are indeed very large structures, potentially, that we would be designing for, particularly if you were standing on ground next to it, along the shoreline," Wisemiller said. Tidal estuary hydrodynamics might also be affected along the Hudson River, as far north as Troy.

The idea was conceived in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, in 2012, which resulted in $15 billion worth of damage, and over 50 lives lost. New York and New Jersey are the non-federal co-sponsors of the endeavor, working with the Army Corps.

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