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LI leaders offer plan to avoid storm destruction

Napeague Meadow Road is covered by flood waters

Napeague Meadow Road is covered by flood waters from Napeague Harbor caused by Sandy in Amagansett (Oct. 29, 2012) Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Long Island must elevate and protect its key electrical substations, use a smart grid to improve utilities, shore up bulkheads and dunes and make roads less vulnerable to flooding to avoid a reprise of superstorm Sandy's "epic destruction," local business and development leaders said.

The 45-point plan, aimed at both recovery and prevention, focuses on four critical areas: water sanitation, utilities, transportation and housing.

The document was drafted earlier this month by the Long Island Association, New York League of Conservation Voters and Long Island Regional Planning Council, among others.

The group Friday will send the document to Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan -- tapped by the president to head a federal Sandy task force -- as well as to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and both county executives.

President Barack Obama has proposed $60.4 billion in Sandy aid for the Northeast, including $13 billion for projects that would reduce risks from future disasters.

"It's important that as the requests are being made for funding, that you have some ideas and plans as to where the money should go," said Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association.

The document doesn't include a price tag, but its recommendations would cost billions of dollars to carry out, its authors said.

Critical recommendations include:

The elevation of electrical equipment, including generators, at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant so that it is less vulnerable to flooding

The creation of an ocean outfall pipe to discharge effluent from the Bay Park sewage plant to a location three miles south of Long Beach to relieve pollution at Reynolds Channel and Hempstead Bay, as occurred for more than a month after Sandy because of storm damage to the plant.

The conversion of the Long Beach sewage treatment plant to a pump station transporting flow to Bay Park.

The creation of a contingency plan for emergency removal of garbage and debris off the Island by rail, barge and truck.

The outfitting of cell towers, major communications centers and gas stations with generators to keep them operating during power failures.

Steel sheeting to be installed along vulnerable sections of roads and road endings at bay fronts to help prevent pavement buckling and washouts.

Better protection for LIRR substations and yards from flooding.

The sealing and closure of transit and roadway tunnels during flood surges.

The burying of power lines for future construction.

The creation of more rental housing, in part to provide shelter options for displaced residents and also to help Long Island attract and house a workforce, strengthening the economy.

The use of more porous pavements for roads to improve water drainage.

The authors said critical wastewater treatment, water supply and solid waste facilities should be protected by berms and retaining walls, wherever possible.

They should also be able to be powered by generators with a seven-day fuel supply and have a fuel replenishment plan, the group wrote.

Desmond Ryan, executive director of the Association for a Better Long Island, said decision-makers will have to determine which of the initiatives is feasible.

He said they're going to have to decide what is "first among equals" and move on those projects that will bring about the best results.

While it might be cost prohibitive, for example, to bury the Island's power lines -- Ryan said it could run $1 million per mile -- it's perhaps easier to make sure gas stations have generators, he said.

Jennifer Rimmer, director of strategic initiatives and sustainability at AECOM, a company that provides support services for transportation, facilities, environmental, energy, water and government, said the group has both long- and short-term goals. AECOM assisted in drafting the proposal.

"We need to get the short- term taken care of, but we also need to look at the next 50 years in terms of resiliency," Rimmer said.

The group searched for ways to ensure the Island won't "repair the same things" over and over, she said. "There is a lot to be done."


Pushing for improvements


Area business and development leaders drafted an infrastructure plan to provide local, state and federal decision makers with a list of priorities for Long Island after Sandy.

The authors are:

Long Island Association

New York League of Conservation Voters

Long Island Builders Institute

NY, NJ, CT Regional Plan Association

Long Island Regional Planning Council

Long Island Contractors' Association, Inc.

American Council of Engineering Companies of New York

Long Island Regional Economic Development Council; Infrastructure Working Group

They were assisted by AECOM, a global company that designs and manages infrastructure including transportation, environmental, energy and water systems.

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