OneNYC: Mayor de Blasio Announces Progress on New Coastal Resiliency Efforts in Most Vulnerable Communities

April 20, 2016

Raised Shorelines projects will protect coastal communities from the impacts of sea-level rise and climate change– complementing comprehensive $20 billion resiliency program underway around five boroughs

NEW YORK—Ahead of Earth Day, the de Blasio Administration announced new progress on vital coastal defense and climate resiliency measures in some of the most vulnerable communities across the city, releasing a Request for Proposals (RFP) for design of the first phase of new, innovative Raised Shorelines projects in low-lying neighborhoods to mitigate the impacts of sea level rise and erosion, following an extensive analysis of the city’s 520 miles of coastal vulnerabilities. Raised Shorelines is part of the City’s comprehensive $20 billion climate resiliency program underway across the five boroughs.

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing our city, our country, and our planet. For a coastal city like ours, rising sea levels mean rising risk for our neighborhoods, infrastructure, and economy – and that is why we’re making an unprecedented investment in the City’s resiliency,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “On the eve of the signing of the Paris climate agreement, smart investments like these underscore why New York City is a global leader in adapting to the impacts of climate change.”

The Raised Shorelines project is a $100 million innovative component of the City’s five-borough coastal defense program to prepare neighborhoods and infrastructure to withstand and emerge stronger from the impacts of climate change. The twin goals of this project are to make the city safer during extreme weather in the near term -- for example, by reducing tidal flooding that some coastal communities experienced during winter storms early this year -- while at the same time, supporting  the City’s long-term work to address sea level rise through strategic localized investments customized to neighborhood needs.

In addition to providing flood protection to socially vulnerable populations and their property across the city, the total Raised Shoreline program, including this phase, will enhance community resiliency by:

  • Protecting over 1,750 households from at least $300 million in residential property damage;
  • Mitigating economic impacts to approximately 1,500 jobs;
  • Protecting at least 65 businesses, preserving over $15 million in revenue;
  • Creating or improving access to over 35 acres of public space; and
  • Providing at least $2.5 million in ecological benefits.

The RFP issued this week by the New York City Economic Development Corporation seeks design services for infrastructure and waterfront improvements to reduce flood risks as a result of sea level rise and erosion across the city. The design phase will be accompanied by an extensive community engagement process to shape the final designs.

The first phase of the Raised Shorelines project will include the following areas:

  • Old Howard Beach, Queens
  • Mott Basin, Queens
  • Norton Basin, Queens
  • Coney Island Creek, Brooklyn
  • Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn
  • Canarsie, Brooklyn
  • FDR Drive and East River Esplanade, Manhattan

Following the completion of additional ongoing resiliency planning in Edgemere, the Southeast Bronx, Coney Island Creek, the Bulls Head section of Staten Islandand the South Shore of Staten Island, the City will follow up soon with an additional RFP for additional sites in Staten Island, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens.

“The threats we face from climate change and sea level rise are large, which is why the City continues to implement its $20 billion OneNYC resiliency program. This Raised Shorelines project is an innovative approach to the risks of sea level rise and erosion that will be tailored to the needs of each community,” said Daniel Zarrilli, Senior Director for Climate Policy and Programs and the Chief Resilience Officer in the NYC Mayor’s Office. “By recognizing the threats of climate change and investing appropriately, we are building a more resilient New York City.”

“Hurricane Sandy showed us that climate change isn’t just an ‘inconvenient’ truth,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer, “it’s a reality that we have to confront proactively. As we strengthen resiliency in the Rockaways, Coney Island, Hunts Point, Staten Island’s North Shore, Lower Manhattan, and at sites throughout the five boroughs, these efforts to raise shorelines in coastal communities demonstrate how we are building resiliency into the very DNA of our City.”

Progress on Citywide Coastal Resiliency Projects

Over the past year, the City has made significant strides toward the implementation of the first phase of its comprehensive coastal protection plan, a key element of the City’s OneNYC $20 billion multi-layered resiliency program. This has been possible due to the strong degree of cooperation and interagency coordination at all levels of government. 

To date, the City and its partners have made significant progress on the City's comprehensive coastal protection all across the city. For example, the City has:

  • Completed the preliminary design and started environmental review for the East Side Coastal Resiliency project, which is still on track for a 2017 groundbreaking following a successful community engagement process.
  • Launched the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency project and selected a consultant to conduct preliminary design and environmental review for an integrated flood protection system in Two Bridges and Lower Manhattan, securing $176 million from HUD’s National Disaster Resilience Competition.
  • Partnered with the USACE to release the preliminary feasibility report for a $580 million armored levee and inland drainage project on the East Shore of Staten Island.
  • Partnered with the USACE to approve a tentatively selected plan for its Rockaway Reformulation project, including a Jamaica Bay inlet storm surge barrier and related coastal defense measures in Southern Brooklyn, the Atlantic shoreline of the Rockaway peninsula, and in Jamaica Bay.
  • Completed initial field work and released a design RFP for a double dune system in Breezy Point.
  • Launched a public design process for an integrated flood protection system in Red Hook.
  • Completed a community engagement process in Hunts Point that identified two priority project elements, flood risk reduction and energy resiliency, and announced the selection of a consultant team to advance the analysis of both elements, and the design of a pilot energy resiliency project.
  • Advanced nature-based resiliency measures in Jamaica Bay in partnership with State and Federal agencies, including at Spring Creek and Sunset Cove.

These measures complement many other resiliency measures already in place and underway, such as 4.2 million cubic yards of new sand placed on city beaches in Coney Island and the Rockaway peninsula, 9.8 miles of dunes constructed across Staten Island and the Rockaway peninsula, and 10,500 linear feet of upgraded bulkheads across the city. This is also supplemented by significant resiliency investments being made across the city, including $3 billion for NYCHA public housing, $1.7 billion for public hospitals, and other investments to prepare for the impacts of climate change and other 21st century threats.

To prepare for the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century, New York City has formed a partnership with 100 Resilient Cities, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation.  With millions of New Yorkers living and working along our waterfronts, it is more urgent than ever for the City to utilize the tools and partnerships that will make all of us more resilient against future risks.

According to the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCCC), an independent scientific body that advises the City on climate risks and resiliency, projections for sea level rise in New York City show an increase between 11 inches and 21 inches by the 2050s, between 18 inches and 39 inches by the 2080s, and between 22 inches and 50 inches by 2100, with a high-end projection of up to six feet by 2100. Sea level rise projections are relative to the 2000 to 2004 base period.

Projected sea level changes alone would increase the frequency and intensity of coastal flooding (absent any change in storms themselves). Under the high sea level rise estimate for the 2080s, the current 100-year flood (a flood with a 1 percent annual chance of occurrence) is projected to become an approximately once-in-eight year event.

These projections directly inform planning for the City’s resiliency program.

"Projects like Raised Shorelines will help the city, its citizens, and its infrastructure develop resilience to climate extremes in the near term and climate change in the long term,’ said Cynthia Rosenzweig, Co-Chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change.

"The Raised Shorelines project is a clear illustration of how New York City is actively directing financial and intellectual resources to lessen flooding and surge storm risks faced by our low elevation waterfront communities, “said William Solecki, Co-Chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change.

“As we come together to celebrate Earth Day, we must also be careful not to forget about the Earth’s power. Low-lying coastal areas here in Southern Brooklyn and across the city must be protected from the growing threat of climate change and rising sea levels. There is no time to waste when it comes to upgrading the resiliency of coastal neighborhoods. Communities like Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, and Sea Gate, all of which touch the Coney Island Creek shoreline, know all too well the dangerous nature of extreme weather events. Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of these communities, and it is vitally important that progress is made to protect these vulnerable areas and the residents who live there. The Raised Shoreline project presents much-needed progress as we seek to protect infrastructure, property, and most importantly, lives. I would like to thank Mayor de Blasio and Daniel Zarrilli, and commend him on committing to involve local stakeholders in the design process,” said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency.

“This Earth Week, we are helping to make our waterfront safer for residents.  The Raised Shorelines project will help mitigate the long-term impacts of sea-level rise and erosion throughout our city’s shore and low-lying neighborhoods.  It will also help keep us ready for possible flood damage during future storms, I commend Mayor de Blasio for his leadership on this important issue,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection.

“The Raised Shorelines project is an important and necessary step towards ensuring that our coastal communities can withstand future storms,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “While we are working to reinvigorate the Edgemere community, we must prepare our neighborhoods for the impending impacts of climate change. I’d like to thank Mayor de Blasio and the Mayor’s Office for Recovery and Resiliency for identifying Mott Basin and Norton Basin in this RFP and for making the Rockaway peninsula a priority for sustainability.”

“The Raised Shorelines project aims to do more than just protect the city from rising sea levels – it provides additional benefits in the form of increased access to public space, economic development, ecological protections and more.  Getting the most out of every dollar spent is a key element of resilience, and it’s something that this initiative will do when it is fully implemented.  When all is said and done, OneNYC will help make New York and its citizens more resilient to the challenges of the 21st century, both known and unknown,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities.

“Hurricane Sandy may be receding in our collective memory, but the reality of climate change, rising seas,  the threat of future storms and increased flooding have certainly not gone away.  Mayor de Blasio’s Raised Shoreline program is an important investment in protecting our coastal city,” said Roland Lewis, President and CEO of the Waterfront Alliance.

“Low-lying neighborhoods are going to be increasingly exposed to flood risks. It’s great to see a the City taking proactive steps this spring, ahead of hurricane season. The Institute looks forward to helping the City develop longer term measures as part of the ongoing process of resiliency and recovery, said Adam Parris, Director of the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay.

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