A proposal to construct a Throgs Neck floodgate is becoming less likely, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said last Thursday.
The Inn at Great Neck was packed with concerned residents and local officials for a presentation by the Corps on proposals to protect New York City from flooding in major storms. Their fear is that a floodgate would divert water and damage North Shore areas.
“The induced floodings in several alternatives are less likely to be selected,” project manager Bryce Wisemiller said to thunderous applause. “There are a lot of studies underway, and a lot of evaluations yet to do, but I did want to make that point initially so people have that in mind.”
The Corps of Engineers was initially directed to produce proposals to protect the New York City area from flooding in response to storms such as Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
“The Army Corps of Engineers are basically putting a cork in the Long Island Sound,” Peter Forman, commissioner of the Port Washington-Manhasset Office of Emergency Management, said. “The proposals would only further exacerbate the damage and flooding that occurs in these low-lying communities.”
Before the presentation, bulletin boards highlighting the proposals were displayed in the back of the inn’s main floor ballroom. Each board had an Army Corps representative nearby to answer questions from residents.
“We understand that this impacts residents in a variety of ways,” Dr. Olivia Cackler of the Corps said. “Everything from physical safety to financial burdening has been closely examined, and there is still much more to do before we make the best decision possible.”
An initial proposal was for an enclosed barrier in the East River, west of the Throgs Neck Bridge, that would extend from the seafloor to above sea level. The retractable gate would remain open until a threatening storm approached the area.
Five alternative options were also presented, ranging from $14.8 billion to $118 billion in construction costs, and from 9 to 25 years to build. The proposed alternatives featured in a February interim report released by the Corps show several combinations of the Throgs Neck barrier with other structures built in areas such as Jamaica Bay, Verrazano Narrows, Sandy Hook, Pelham Bay and others.
The fifth alternative, the cheapest one, drew the most positive reaction from people at the presentation. It features no barriers, but strictly shoreline-based solutions. Potential solutions include hardening exposed shorelines with large stones, bulkheads and tide gates.
Tide gates are commonly-used fixtures in a city’s drainage system that do not allow water to be drawn back into the draining infrastructure, thus reducing flood risks.
Wisemiller noted in a response to a question on how engineers will protect low-lying island communities that Manorhaven is a “very concerning area” along with Port Washington.
He asked residents to reach out to local elected officials, and then the Army Corps since the engineers cannot conduct studies without local partners first requesting it.
At a news conference before the meeting, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth expressed her concerns, noting that many local communities fear “induced flooding.”
“We understand the need to protect Manhattan from flooding; we saw what happened during Superstorm Sandy,” Bosworth said. “But we do not want to be the designated spillway.”
According to Army Corps officials, a draft report is being worked on and a final plan is expected to be released in July. If everything goes according to schedule, a final plan will be approved and ready for construction to start in November 2022.