City's Redesigned Flood Barrier Saves Time But Doubles Cost

Crain's New York Business: The de Blasio administration on Friday announced major changes to a 2.4-mile barrier designed to protect the Lower East Side from floods. The revision calls for jacking up portions of East River Park to protect it from storm surges and condensing the construction time line to ensure that the city qualifies for federal funding.

However, some stakeholders were puzzled that City Hall would announce such dramatic and costly changes so late in the process. The original plan had been hashed out over four years of community meetings and was already supposed to be traversing the public review process by the time several high-ranking de Blasio administration officials hastily convened a conference call last week to explain how the redesign protects the Lower East Side and facilitates access to the waterfront.

"This update actually helps us meet those goals, improves from where we were and fortunately allows us to do it faster," said First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan.

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the Obama administration created Rebuild by Design and tasked the organization with holding competitions to encourage innovative flood-protection measures that would be eligible for federal funding. In 2014 the outfit selected a proposed flood-barrier system called the Big U and earmarked $335 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for the first phase of the project. The city pledged to chip in hundreds of millions of dollars and began working with private-sector designers, including the Bjarke Ingels Group, to come up with blueprints. Check it Out >>