STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is calling for a buried seawall from Fort Wadsworth to Oakwood Beach as well as a levee and floodwall in Oakwood Beach in its new draft report to protect Staten Island from future Hurricane Sandy-like storms.
If approved, construction on the $579 million project would begin in three years.
The area is considered phase I of a two-phase project.
Under the plan:
- A levee would be built along Oakwood Creek in Oakwood Beach, replacing an existing levee built there in 2000. It would run inland, crossing Hylan Boulevard. A gate would be placed on the road and close during severe storms, allowing only emergency vehicles to get around it.
- A floodwall would be placed around the waterfront sides of the Oakwood Beach treatment facility.
- A tide gate there would open to allow the creek to flow and would close only during a severe storm.
- Tidal wetlands would be planted as a second barrier between the buried seawall and the water in Oakwood Beach.
- A buried seawall from Miller Field through Oakwood Beach would have a 17-foot-wide promenade on top of it. The seawall would have a 38-foot-wide boardwalk on top from Midland Beach to Fort Wadsworth. It would replace the existing FDR Boardwalk.
- Project manager Frank Verga explained that Kissam Avenue in Oakwood Beach would be raised 3 feet and a portion of Mill Road near Kissam would be raised 1 foot. Kissam Avenue, devastated by Hurricane Sandy, would be used as an emergency access road to the treatment plant.
- In Ocean Breeze, the end of Seaview Avenue that meets Capodanno Boulevard would be raised a foot. Capodanno would also be raised a foot.
- Nine existing sewer outfalls — open pipes that run water from inland into the ocean — would have gates that would close when a storm approaches, stopping water from coming inland.
- To avoid flooding if the outfalls are closed, the plan calls for 10 pond areas — open plots of land that would be excavated to allow for more water to collect — and about a dozen flood storage preservation areas — existing open space that would stay undeveloped to collect water without being excavated. Some of those areas are close to the shore, while others are inland. Only one is on the northern side of Hylan Boulevard.
MAINTAINING THE WORK
The plan does not call for the state or city to acquire any buildings or houses, with the exception of the existing state buyouts in Oakwood Beach.
Verga said that the heights of the buried seawall (the visible portion would be 10 feet), the floodwall and levee could all be increased.
About $376 million of the almost $579 million project would be paid for by the federal government. The city and state would share the remaining $203 million.
The city and state would be responsible for its maintenance and upkeep, at an estimated annual cost of $600,000.
Sand for the buried seawall would have to be replaced periodically, as would grass plantings along it. The levee and pond areas would have to be mowed and valves, gate chambers and their mechanisms would eventually need to be replaced.
While Verga cautioned that it won’t protect totally against all flooding, as rain events can still flood and cause interior runoff, this project is designed to protect the Island from peak water levels that are 2 feet higher than those from Hurricane Sandy.
PUBLIC CAN WEIGH IN
Public information sessions will be held next month to review the draft Environmental Impact Statement and draft report. The final report is expected in December. After several other review and approval steps, in spring 2018 construction contracts will be awarded to begin work.
Verga noted that because the project has been fast tracked, it would not need congressional approval like other Army Corps projects, thus saving several years from the approval process.
The project is slated to be complete in 2021.
A second phase of the project, from Great Kills to Tottenville, may not get clearance to proceed, because there’s too much cost for not enough benefit, according to the Army Corps.