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NYC announces resiliency plan for Lower Manhattan

The plan will advance $500 million in capital projects and interim measures to protect the area from the effects of climate change into the next century.

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The resiliency plan is designed to protect Lower Manhattan into the next century
The resiliency plan is designed to protect Lower Manhattan into the next century

New York City (NYC) has announced a $500m resiliency plan to help safeguard Lower Manhattan from the impact of climate change including measures to bolster flood protection and reinforcing coastal areas.

 

The investment follows the release of a study which evaluated dozens of adaptation measures and identified a set of strategies to build resilience in Lower Manhattan.

 

Vulnerability to climate change

 

Recommendations for the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency (LMCR) project 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.

 

Construction is expected to begin between 2019 and 2021.

 

“Hurricane Sandy showed us how vulnerable areas like Lower Manhattan are to climate change,” said Bill de Blasio, NYC mayor. “That’s why we not only have to reduce emissions to prevent the most cataclysmic potential effects of global warming, we have to prepare for the ones that are already inevitable. Our actions will protect lower Manhattan into the next century. We need the federal government to stand behind cities like New York to meet this crisis head on.”

 

Since Hurricane Sandy, the city has worked to assess the impacts and risks of climate change and analyse coastal protection options along the 3.3 miles of shoreline comprising Lower Manhattan.

“Our actions will protect lower Manhattan into the next century. We need the federal government to stand behind cities like New York to meet this crisis head on”

The resilience study projects that by the 2050s, 37 per cent of properties in Lower Manhattan will be at risk from storm surge. By 2100, with over 6 feet of projected sea level rise, almost half of properties will be at risk from surge, and one fifth of Lower Manhattan streets will be exposed to daily tidal inundation.

 

Groundwater table rise is projected to put 7 per cent of buildings at risk of destabilisation and expose 39 per cent of streets with underground utilities to corrosion and water infiltration.

 

Low-lying topography

 

The study examined a range of options for protecting all of Lower Manhattan, including the Seaport and the Financial District. These areas present unique challenges, including low-lying topography, a lack of available space, dense infrastructure above and below ground, and an active waterfront.

 

The proximity of the FDR, Battery Tunnel and A/C subway tunnels further constrain the sites. Taken together, these elements mean that more traditional on-land flood protection measures are not feasible. Ultimately, the study found that extending the shoreline into the East River was the only feasible way to protect these vulnerable and vital parts of the city.

 

“Building resilience requires a forward-looking vision for the future,” added Corinne LeTourneau, managing director for North America at 100 Resilient Cities, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation

 

“New York City is taking the important step to not only understand the shocks and stresses to which its communities are exposed today, but also explore bold ideas to tackle challenges the city will face by the end of this century.”

 

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