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Long Beach gets $20M to protect bayfront hit by Sandy

The federal funding will go toward building bulkheading that officials say is needed to prevent future damage to the wastewater treatment plant and electrical substation.

A $20 million shoreline project will protect Long

A $20 million shoreline project will protect Long Beach infrastructure, such as its wastewater treatment plant, seen on Saturday.  Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has allocated $20 million for Long Beach to construct bulkheading to protect critical infrastructure on its north shore bayfront.

Officials said the funding will protect the city’s wastewater treatment plant, its water purification system, the electric substation and the LIRR station facing Reynolds Channel.  

The city’s infrastructure was flooded during superstorm Sandy six years ago when waves from the ocean met the bay and cut off electricity, sewage systems and drinking water for weeks.

“Superstorm Sandy woke us all up to the fact that we need to rebuild stronger, smarter, and safer, especially on our bayside,” Long Beach City Council President Anthony Eramo said in a statement last week. “This project will help protect our vulnerable neighborhoods, strengthen our critical infrastructure, and enhance our resilience for future storms.”

The city’s electrical substation serves the entire barrier island, including Point Lookout, Lido Beach and Atlantic Beach. The city also treats wastewater for residents in neighboring Lido Beach.

FEMA will reimburse Long Beach for building a half-mile of new steel bulkheading and an armored slope along the existing natural gas pipeline. The project also calls for bulkheading to be added next to the Long Beach Boulevard bridge and a barrier next to the LIRR tracks running over Reynolds Channel.  

The city will also build a pump station to pump 33 million gallons of water per day and upgrade stormwater infrastructure to reduce flooding in residential areas and coastal tidal wetlands.  

FEMA previously awarded $1.6 million in engineering work and will award $18.5 million for construction. The project is expected to be finished by October 2021.

“The devastation from Sandy is still felt today in Long Beach, and it is crucial that we provide this community with the assistance it needs to strengthen its infrastructure against future storms,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in an Oct. 15 statement announcing the FEMA funding.

City officials still face red tape before work on the bulkheading can begin.

The waterways in Reynolds Channel belong to the Town of Hempstead, so the city must first seek a land transfer to build the bulkheads off the coast, or each local government can pass a memorandum of understanding to allow the construction.

Long Beach officials can submit the project for bids once they gain access to the waterway. The city must also pass a $20 million bond to get the work done while awaiting reimbursements.

A separate north shore bayfront project backed by $12.5 million in state funding will allow the city to add bulkheading to its public shoreline along the West End, West Bay Avenue and a portion of Canal Street.

A gap in state funding has left private homeowners uncovered for bulkheading. The city is offering a 20-year financing program through a property tax surcharge for those homeowners who want to repair and replace bulkheads.

The three-year bulkheading project will protect infrastructure critical to Long Beach:

  • Wastewater treatment plant
  • Water purification system
  • Electrical substation
  • LIRR station

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