Even if soft infrastructure strategies were implemented, some critical infrastructure would still need to be hardened, i.e. made waterproof, Professor Seavitt notes. Specifically, she recommends protecting subway entrances and sidewalk grates to prevent flooding of the public transit system, relocating or hardening waterfront power plants and moving critical communications and power infrastructure out of the basements of commercial and residential buildings.
Soft infrastructure techniques can be applied, as well, to protect populated areas in the outlying coastal regions that suffered extensive storm damage such as Long Island, Staten Island and the Jersey Shore. Offshore reefs and barrier islands could be created to protect shorelines and inhabited barrier islands. Many of these areas are shallower than the Upper Bay so it may be easier to work in them, she says.
One technology that could play a role in this process is a recent Dutch invention known as a sand motor, in which enormous quantities of sand are deposited offshore. Waves, currents and tides distribute it in a natural way, creating a protective barrier island.
Currently, Professor Seavitt is working with Guy Nordenson & Associates and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on a pilot project to create an artificial island at the Gowanus Flats, a shallow section of Upper Bay off Brooklyn's Sunset Harbor waterfront. She also notes that efforts are underway to create new oyster reefs around Governors Island as well as wetland restoration through the reuse of dredged sediment in Jamaica Bay.
|Contact: Ellis Simon|
City College of New York