Resiliency Plan Aims to Protect Lower Manhattan from Climate Change
Mayor de Blasio recently released the findings of a study that determined the city’s comprehensive strategy for the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency (LMCR) project. The study evaluated dozens of adaptation measures and identified a set of strategies to build resilience in Lower Manhattan. The recommendations include developing a plan to extend the Manhattan shoreline into the East River to protect the low-lying and highly constrained Seaport and Financial District area. In addition, the city will advance $500 million for four capital projects to reinforce Lower Manhattan’s coastal areas and provide interim flood protections for the Seaport, parts of the Financial District, and Two Bridges neighborhoods, to begin construction between 2019 and 2021.
Since Hurricane Sandy, the city has worked to assess the impacts and risks of climate change and analyze coastal protection options along the 3.3 miles of shoreline comprising Lower Manhattan. The Resilience Study projects that by the 2050s, 37 percent of properties in Lower Manhattan will be at risk from storm surge. By 2100, with over 6 feet of projected sea level rise, almost 50 percent of properties will be at risk from surge, and 20 percent of Lower Manhattan streets will be exposed to daily tidal inundation. Groundwater table rise is projected to put 7 percent of buildings at risk of destabilization and expose 39 percent of streets with underground utilities to corrosion and water infiltration.
The study examined a range of options for protecting all of Lower Manhattan, including the Seaport and the Financial District. Ultimately, the study found that extending the shoreline into the East River is the only feasible way to protect these vulnerable and vital parts of the city.
The shoreline may be extended by a maximum of 500 feet, or two full city blocks. This will create a new piece of land with high points at or above 20 feet from current sea level. The new shoreline will act as a flood barrier during storms and protect the neighborhoods against projected sea-level rise. The exact extent of the new shoreline, along with the design and construction of this innovative flood protection system, will be determined through a public engagement process.
Over the next two years, the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR) and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) will complete a Financial District and Seaport Climate Resilience Master Plan, which will include a comprehensive design for the shoreline extension and establish a new public-benefit corporation to finance, construct, and manage it. To begin this process, the city will immediately procure a team of engineers and designers through a Request for Qualification RFQ later this month. The Master Planning Process will be complete in 2021 and will identify a first phase project.