NYC Council Approves Controversial East Side Flood Barrier; Wants to Stave Off Another Hurricane Sandy

A rendering of the East Side Coastal Resiliency on-grade connection across the FDR at Corlears Hook (Courtesy Sep. 18, 2019 Public Design Commission Review)

The New York City Council has voted yes to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to build a flood barrier – potentially as high as 13 feet — along a nearly three-mile length of East River coastline, from Montgomery to East 25th streets. The cost: $1.3 billion

By: Jim Locassio 

Also going up will be sections of East River Park – possibly as much as eight feet. Additional building will see walls, berms, levees and green space 16 feet above sea level to keep New Yorkers dry.

 “Hurricane Sandy dramatically changed the lives of New Yorkers all across this city,” said de Blasio in a statement. “With the rising prevalence of coastal storms in the era of climate change, the passage of the East Side Coastal Resiliency project takes a critical step forward in protecting 110,000 New Yorkers from dangers this city knows all too well. I thank Council Members Chin, Powers, and Rivera for their leadership as we make New York City a more resilient city for all.”

Weeks ago, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and Council Member Carlina Rivera announced the publication of the final report by independent consultant Deltares, hired for the review of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR).

In her Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP) recommendation, Brewer had requested an independent environmental expert to review the ESCR Project and prepare comments regarding the City’s Preferred Alternative 4 proposal and the other three alternative designs. The independent review by Deltares was led by Dr. Hans Gehrels.

Among the findings in the report, which studied resiliency in the Alternative 3 and Alternative 4 designs, were:

      The need for improving transparency and stakeholder engagement

      Ongoing monitoring for air quality impacts to be made available publicly

      Release of City documents that provide evidence for the analysis underlying the Final Environmental Impact Statement

      Further investigation of Interim Flood Protection Measures (IFPM) during the construction period

      Phased construction for continued use of portions of the park with additional open space mitigation

      Additional clean fill for future flood protection against sea level rise

“We heard the requests of the community for an independent review loud and clear, and we listened,” said Brewer at the time. “Deltares brought their vast experience and expertise to the analysis of this project, and I implore the de Blasio administration to take these suggestions into account before any construction begins.”

“We knew we had to bring in our own climate change and resiliency experts to ensure that ESCR, which will set the tone for all future coastal resiliency projects, is done right,” said Rivera. “I look forward to carefully reviewing this report and the recommendations from Deltares and hope the de Blasio administration will do the same as they work to address our other outstanding demands.”

The mayor’s office said it expects the project to protect as many as 100,000 New Yorkers once it is completed in 2025.


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