U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that four major New York coastal protection projects worth over $1 billion dollars will receive full federal funding, after a month long campaign led by Schumer.
The Sandy relief bill that was signed into law required only that the feds pick up 65% of the project cost, but that amount could be increased if the projects met the criteria of “on-going construction” and are updated to make them stronger, more resilient, and offer better protection against storms. Immediately after the bill’s passage, Schumer began working with the Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Office of Management and Budget to lay out a strategic pathway so that the four projects could be considered as “ongoing construction” and modified to adapt to the changing climate and therefore eligible for full federal funding.
These important projects, which will protect hundreds of thousands of homeowners and residents, likely wouldn’t have happened, as the cost to local governments would be too great.
An interim report today released by the USACE confirms that these projects will be considered “ongoing construction,” and therefore eligible for full federal funding. The projects are in Eastern Long Island, Long Beach, Coney Island and the Rockaways. Schumer pointed in particular to the historic nature of the Eastern Long Island project, known as “Fire Island to Montauk Point” – the approximately $750 million project has been planned since 1960, but could never receive the necessary funding. He also highlighted the long-planned, but never-fully-executed plans to protect the vulnerable shorelines of the entire Rockaway Peninsula and Coney Island, two areas that suffered tremendous damage following Superstorm Sandy. Most projects have been previously built but need to be updated and fully funded to protect against climate change
“Today we’ve turned these projects, long a dream of coastal communities, into a reality,” said Schumer. “From Rockaway to Coney Island to Long Beach to Fire Island and Montauk Point, this will green light project-after-project that are vital to protecting these vulnerable communities from future floods. By agreeing to pick up the full tab for these projects, the federal government has virtually guaranteed that these critical coastal protection projects, some decades in the making, will be built – and it will save money for local taxpayers. Homeowners and residents along New York’s hundreds of miles of coast lines can feel a little more secure knowing that vital protections, in the forms of dunes, beaches, and seawalls, will now be constructed.”
A summary of the projects can be found below:
Long Beach Island -The project area is located on the south shore of Long Island from Jones Inlet to East Rockaway Inlet and consists of approximately 9 miles of oceanfront. A historical low height and narrow width of the beach front has increased the potential for storm damage. The recommended plan would provide dune protection against a 100-year storm event for 7 of the 9 miles of public shoreline between Jones Inlet and East Rockaway Inlet, including the communities of Point Lookout, Lido Beach, and the City of Long Beach.
The estimated cost of this project is $150 million.
Fire Island to Montauk Point (FIMP) – The authorized project provides for hurricane protection and beach erosion control along five reaches of the south shore of Long Island between Fire Island Inlet and Montauk Point, a distance of approximately 83miles. The project also authorizes federal participation in periodic beach nourishment. Major dunes and beach nourishment could commence across the south shore of Suffolk County. Though some interim construction has been completed, the project has never been fully completed.
The estimated cost of this project is $750 million.
Coney Island – The Coney Island Reach project, which extends from West 37th Street to Brighton Beach, consists of approximately 3 miles of beachfront which provides storm damage reduction to the densely populated communities and infrastructure located along the shoreline of Coney Island. The Army Corps needs to repair lost beach and study and construct a higher dune, as well as constructing additional protections in Sea Gate.
The estimated cost of this project is $48 million.
Rockaway Beach – The project study area is located along the shoreline on the Rockaway Peninsula. The project was authorized by Congress as a 100-200 foot wide beach at an elevation of 10 feet from Beach 149th Street to Beach 19th Street, approximately 6.2 miles. From1977 until 2004, the Corps of Engineers designed, constructed and maintained the project under two major construction projects. Because of the high costs, the Corps was directed to “reformulate” the original plan, with the objective of finding a long term, cost-effective solution (potentially including dunes, stone-groins and other protective measures) to staunch the effects of continued erosion on the Rockaway peninsula. Supplemental package funding would repair the existing project to its designed level, finish the reformulation study, and construct any improvements needed for additional protection.
The estimated cost of this project is $300 million.
Press Release, March 13, 2013