A long-delayed Staten Island seawall inched closer to construction with the transfer of $215 million from the city and state to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Last week’s release of the money leaves the East Shore Seawall three years behind schedule — increasing with each passing year the chance of floodwater inundating the area as it did during 2012’s Superstorm Sandy. The project’s budget meanwhile has risen by $35 million.
The move comes almost five months after the city and state agreed to help fund the coastal defense project stretching from Fort Wadsworth to Oakwood Beach, and signed a pact with the Army Corps guiding the work.
“The city was unable to begin the process of transferring funds to the Corps for the design and construction of the project until these agreements were signed,” Anessa Hodgson, city Department of Parks and Recreation spokesperson, told THE CITY Tuesday.
The plan calls for a 5.3 mile-long embankment that will include an elevated promenade with a boardwalk that provides access to Midland and South Beach.
Tied Up Over Access Issue
While the project was first proposed in 2015, the Army Corps was unable to complete the design. That’s because the Department of the Interior said it was legally barred from giving the Army Corps access to Miller Field, a federal park in the proposed seawall’s path.
With the three-way funding agreement in place, rookie Rep. Max Rose (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn) and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) prevailed on Congress to pass legislation in February allowing the Army Corps onto the site.
“Believe it or not, the seawall will be built and this [funding] is just one of the many steps of the process towards making that a reality,” Rose said in a statement to THE CITY. “So much lies ahead of us and I’ll be there every step of the way to make sure it’s built right.”
Partially funded through the federal disaster relief bill that followed Superstorm Sandy, the $614 million seawall promises to protect thousands of Staten Islanders from future storms — and reduce flood insurance premiums for homeowners in Oakwood, New Dorp, Dongan Hills, Arrochar, Midland and South Beach.
The Army Corps now says that the seawall, originally budgeted at $579 million and scheduled for completion in 2021, will be built sometime in 2024.
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