Green Hotels Association
    July 2017  

Iconic New York beach
gets climate-resilient boardwalk

It cost $70 million per mile to replace the tattered wooden boardwalk at Rockaway Beach, a New York community battered by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. Rockaway Beach, where a holiday getaway at the southern edge of Queens long ago transformed into a dense neighborhood, had its wooden boardwalk shredded by Hurricane Sandy. The homes behind it were crushed by a storm surge and inundated with floodwaters. Nearly five years later, the wooden walkway has been replaced by more than five miles of sand-toned concrete atop 50 million pounds of sandbags and a retaining wall that holds in place new sand dunes. It is meant to help protect residents and residences from storm surges. The boardwalk and dunes were built at a cost of $70 million a mile, with the final segment of beachfront walkway put in place last month.

Seas along the New York coastline have risen by about a foot during the past century. Warming has melted ice and expanded ocean water, currents have shifted and geological processes have caused land to sink. That extra sea level exacerbated Sandy’s heavy toll.

Sea level rise is accelerating globally as greenhouse gas pollution levels rise, making floods and storm surges worse and more common. Climate change also makes storms fiercer. In a densely populated region rife with vulnerabilities and flush with riches, the Big Apple is showing how cities elsewhere could adapt.

Subway lines and rail yards were rebuilt and fortified against flood risks after Sandy. Emergency shelters were built and volunteerism has been promoted. Building codes have been revised. Electrical equipment is being placed high in skyscrapers instead of at ground or basement level, where it risks being inundated.

The boardwalk cost $340 million, paid for by federal taxpayers using some of the $50 billion in Sandy relief funding authorized by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in 2013. The sand dunes in front of it cost more than $35 million to build, and they will need to be replenished after the next big storm or to counter erosion.

The Rockaway Peninsula is a 10-mile strip of land an hour’s drive or subway ride from Wall Street. It is less than half a mile wide in many places. While new sand dunes will protect neighborhoods against storm surges that strike directly from the ocean, little has been done to protect neighborhoods near bays on the peninsula and elsewhere from flooding.

Upton, John, Iconic New York beach gets climate-
resilient boardwalk, Climate Central, June 20, 2017

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Boardwalk Funding

This 5+-mile $340 million boardwalk, costing $70 million per mile, was paid for by Federal taxpayers using some of the Sandy relief funding authorized by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in 2013.





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