Army Corps prefers small flood gates to large storm surge barriers

NY1: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers quietly announced earlier this month that it favors a plan to build several small flood gates at the mouths of New York City waterways to prevent storm surges from inundating urban areas — instead of constructing massive barriers that would span the Narrows waterway or the mouth to the area’s entire harbor.

The Corps is one of several entities creating plans for making the New York City area less vulnerable to rising sea levels. In 2019, its preliminary report outlined several possible scenarios for using physical barriers to block tropical storms from flooding coastal areas of New York and New Jersey.

One of those proposals was a nearly seven-mile, $35.6 billion barrier that would run from Breezy Point, in the Rockaways, to Sandy Hook, at the very top of New Jersey’s shoreline. Another proposal would have seen a gate constructed across much of the waterway separating Staten Island and Brooklyn, set just north of the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, for a price tag of $8.5 billion.

While the recommendation is not final, and a full report from the Corps is not due until next summer, environmental and resiliency advocates say the proposal would likely have fewer impacts on the area’s waterways, and would allow for incorporating waterfront parks into shoreline areas.

“It’s a huge win for the environment,” said Amy Chester, the managing director of Rebuild By Design, a climate resiliency consulting firm. “It creates opportunities to create infrastructure that benefits the community. Whereas the Narrows [barrier] would have turned back time on our ecosystem.” Read more>>