New York City to Build $335 Million Sea Wall to Stave Off Rising Seas


The horrors of Superstorm Sandy were a clear sign to New Yorkers that something must be done to protect Manhattan and other nearby areas from the rising seas. Officials and designers gathered to discuss the challenges facing the island, and they may have finally developed a defense.

Rebuild by Design is a group that has been tasked with developing a more resilient New York City as residents continue to rebuild from the devastating storm that hit the Northeast in 2012, writes the Verge. The next time a large tropical system hits the coast of New York and New Jersey, the coastline has to be better prepared to absorb the blow.

To plan for expected sea-level rise and future storms, the group has proposed building a $335 million wall around Manhattan to keep the water out, the Verge also reported. The project, titled “The Big U,” is one of six federally-funded projects that are expected to waterproof the region, according to Rebuild by Design.

“We have to prepare for the next storm and not simply respond to the past storm,” said Henk Ovink, a former director of water planning in the Netherlands who came to the U.S. to join the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, according to the Verge.

This isn’t going to be some big concrete wall like the one that used to divide Germany – the Big U will have far more style than that. The plans are to hug the Lower Manhattan coastline with all kinds of “social infrastructure,” as the team calls it, that will serve multiple uses, Wired reports.

Bigger parks will slope upwards as high as 20 feet to block rising seas, the report said. Shops and plaza that resemble the current High Line will also be built along the Big U, Wired also reported.

“There’s the need to protect the city and an opportunity to intervene in a part of Manhattan that could be richer and more lively,” said Bjarke Ingels, head of the Danish design firm who proposed the Big U, in the Wired report. “We’re merely the midwives of an evolution.”

According to NOAA estimates, Sandy left $65 billion in damage and killed more than 150 people. While the Big U will only protect Lower Manhattan from future disaster, it’s a sign to the region that authorities are beginning to plan for a more turbulent world.


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