More than six months after Hurricane Sandy, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will soon be delivering a major address to unveil his plans for how the city can prevent a repeat of the flooding and devastation in a future storm, and what the mayor is proposing may surprise you. Josh Robin filed the following exclusive report.
Removable steel panels up to 12 feet high, preventing river water from once again overwhelming city streets, may soon line the West Side Highway and other parts of New York's waterfront.
Multiple sources say Mayor Michael Bloomberg will call for their installation in flood-prone areas in Manhattan and possibly elsewhere.
It's the same concept behind permanent Dutch storm surge barriers, but with key differences, including price.
"The fact that it's removable has this benefit of least environmental impact, and least impact to the community in terms of access to the waterfront," said Rick Ellman of Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers.
Sources say the mayor's team is suggesting at least one permanent barrier at Newtown Creek, the toxic waterway between Brooklyn and Queens.
Off the coast, there are more subtle measures to tamp down the sizes of waves out at sea.
A pilot program in Staten Island could include manmade islands and wetlands.
Bloomberg is also expected to call for dunes along the Rockaway Peninsula and Staten Island's south shore, still recovering from Hurricane Sandy.
A City Hall spokeswoman says no final decisions have been made.
The mayor's team has been talking to experts.
Oceanographer Malcolm Bowman said the total proposed approach is too piecemeal.
"I think we have to do what Governor Cuomo has asked for, and that's is an engineering analysis of storm surge barriers across the major entrances to New York Harbor, Rockaway to Sandy Hook, and then the East River," Bowman says. "Because nothing less will protect the major airports, the shipping facilities, all the infrastructure that we saw devastated during Sandy."
Others say those barriers could cause more trouble on land that is not protected. In addition, those others say they may cost too much and take too long to build.
Bloomberg is expected to argue that climate change means the city has to move quickly. He'll certainly want his successor to continue these plans after he leaves office in seven months.