Plan unveiled to protect LI from future storms

The 'Rebuild by Design' contest has drawn plans

The 'Rebuild by Design' contest has drawn plans to safeguard the South Shore. Photo Credit: Rebuild by Design

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A storm protection plan aimed at keeping Nassau safe from a Category 2 hurricane would begin in Long Beach, a project participant said Thursday.

The three-year project would start with storm-water abatement and pilot road-raising projects on Long Beach, said Richard Baldwin, whose team has the sole Long Island project.

Baldwin and his Brooklyn-based Interboro Partners team are among 10 finalists competing for federal funding in the "Rebuild by Design" Sandy competition.

Winners of contest, run by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be announced later this spring. All 10 designs were unveiled Thursday in lower Manhattan after the teams spent the winter meeting with the communities.

After Long Beach, Baldwin said the project would progress to Baldwin and Freeport, where "ring" roads that border the shore would be raised about 4 feet, turning them into dikes.

Bayfront homes would be elevated around 6 feet; so would the first row of houses north of the ring roads, Baldwin said.

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Marshlands, which are natural sponges, would be re-created along shorelines. Bike paths and parks, and a bayside boardwalk for Long Beach would sit on top of various berms.

"We think we can build a fully resilient South Shore and not have it seem like living in a prison," Baldwin said.

Giant underground cisterns -- 100 feet by 200 feet -- would temporarily store storm water, Baldwin said. River sluice gates would combat storm surges.

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If the pilot projects work, the plan would expand to the rest of Nassau's South Shore and cost about $3 billion.

Storm flow barriers would be built at all the bridges that link Long Beach with the mainland.

Those barriers, installed at the Meadowbrook Parkway, for example, could be raised and lowered like venetian blinds -- and adjusted for the different paths storms take.

Baldwin's team does not have to focus on hardening the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant, thanks to the Federal Emergency Management Agency's decision to step in with $730 million for that project.

The plant spilled 100 million gallons of untreated sewage into Hewlett Bay on the day Sandy struck.

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The Long Island team's new plan kept its original intention of creating storm protection that doubles as recreational areas.

The team is de-emphasizing a key initial concept, draining the bay when it floods via connectors that would have carried it across Long Beach to the ocean, Baldwin said.

Environmentalists raised concerns those "soda straws" would affect the water's chemistry, while municipal officials questioned whether they would work as designed. So the connectors, whose diameter could be as wide as 15 feet, will be studied further to how they perform through computer modeling.

Baldwin's plan resembles projects in the Netherlands and Vietnam, for example.

That is not the case for the $20 billion to $40 billon "Blue Dunes" plan to defend the shore from Cape May, N.J., to Cape Cod, Mass., by dredging 1 billion cubic yards of sand to create a chain of barrier islands 7 to 10 miles from shore.

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The islands could have halved the amount of physical damage superstorm Sandy inflicted on Nassau's southern shore, said Roni M. Deitz, water management civil engineer, ARCADIS U.S. Inc., in Queens.

Other designs unveiled Thursday would safeguard Connecticut's Bridgeport, the Bronx's Hunts Point market, Manhattan from West 57th Street south to the Battery and north to East 42nd Street, Staten Island, and commerce in Brooklyn's Red Hook, Far Rockaway in Queens and Asbury Park, N.J.

Rival plans would shield New Jersey's Meadowlands, Hudson River communities, and Ocean and Monmouth counties.

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