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Bloomberg urges $20b storm plan to protect NYC

Blueprint calls for a network of flood walls, levees

Mayor Michael Bloomberg outlined the plan on Tuesday to help guard New York City (seen from the Staten Island Ferry) from any future flood disasters.

spencer platt/getty images

Mayor Michael Bloomberg outlined the plan on Tuesday to help guard New York City (seen from the Staten Island Ferry) from any future flood disasters.

NEW YORK — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg outlined a far-reaching plan Tuesday to protect New York from the threat of rising sea levels and powerful storm surges by building an extensive network of flood walls, levees, and bulkheads to guard much of the city’s 520 miles of coastline.

The cost of fortifying critical infrastructure such as the power grid, retrofitting older buildings to withstand powerful storms, and defending the coastline was estimated to be $20 billion, according to a 430-page report outlining the proposals.

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While Bloomberg conceded that many of the proposals would not even begin to take shape until after he left office at the end of the year, he said the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy made it necessary that work begin immediately.

“This plan is incredibly ambitious — and much of the work will extend far beyond the next 203 days — but we refused to pass the responsibility for creating a plan onto the next administration,” he said during a speech at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “This is urgent work, and it must begin now.”

In all, the report outlines 250 specific recommendations, including the adoption of adaptable flood walls and other measures to protect some of the worst-hit areas during the October hurricane.

The plan covers so many parts of the city and calls for such a wide array of proposals that the estimated price tag could change — and given the history of large infrastructure projects, that means the cost is likely to grow.

The administration said, however, that roughly half of the currently estimated $20 billion cost would be covered by federal and city money that had already been allocated, and that an additional $5 billion would be covered by expected aid that Congress had already appropriated. The plan outlines ways to raise the additional billions that would be required for the plan to become a reality.

In the first phase, the report calls for building barriers in Hunts Point in the Bronx to protect the food distribution center, on the East Harlem Waterfront along the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive, at Hospital Row north of East 23d Street in Manhattan, on the Lower East Side, in Chinatown, in the financial district, and in Red Hook, Brooklyn.

On Staten Island, the plan calls for a system of permanent levees.

Along some parts of the coastline, stone or concrete bulkheads would be installed, while in other places dune systems would be built.

The proposals outlined in the report were prepared by a group the Bloomberg administration assembled after Hurricane Sandy, and some proposals required further study, including the construction of a so-called Seaport City.

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