BY TRONE DOWD
A Jamaica Bay construction project scheduled for 2020 is now set to begin nearly a year ahead of schedule due to efforts from U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The $730 million climate change resiliency project, known as the Rockaway Reformulation Study, has been in the pipeline for more than 15 years, according to the mayor’s office. The study will help determine a long-term solution for coastal erosion along the Atlantic Coast, between East Rockaway Inlet, Rockaway Inlet and Jamaica Bay.
Despite its longevity on the city’s list of capital projects, it has been subjected to numerous delays as the result of a lack of funding and an unclear pathway to its eventual implementation. The plan finally began to pick up momentum in 2013 as part of a sweeping Hurricane Sandy relief effort in the five boroughs.
Although Sandy-related funding would only cover 65 percent of the project’s bill using federal dollars, Schumer has managed to negotiate a deal with the Army Corps of Engineers and Office of Management and Budget to secure the remainder of the funding. While Schumer tackled the financial hurdles of the study, de Blasio has been working with the federal agency to help expedite the timeline of the project itself. As a result, the road to construction is now scheduled to begin in August.
“For far too long, the Rockaways have been waiting for a solution,” Schumer said. “The residents of the Rockaways and Southern Brooklyn need better protections ASAP, and they are justifiably scared and tired of waiting. In addition to the hundreds of millions we secured by reprogramming hundreds of millions in vital construction funds for this project, this agreement will mean that we can greatly accelerate the actual building of vital protections.”
Schumer explained that the funding would help to ensure critical pieces of the Rockaway and Jamaica Bay projects move forward—including the dunes, groins, jetties, beach fill, seawalls and more along the Atlantic Shoreline as well as the high frequency flooding risk reduction measures in Jamaica Bay.
“New York City’s shoreline is our first line of defense against climate change,” de Blasio said. “We are grateful that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to accelerate its work to protect our coastal neighborhoods.
By working with communities and local leaders, we are continuing to deliver on our commitment to build a more sustainable, more resilient and more equitable city.”
Schumer and de Blasio explained that once the Army Corps releases the draft report in August, impacted residents and business owners will be able to review the plans and provide public comment.
Reach reporter Trone Dowd via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the PRESS of Southeast Queens at (718) 357-7400.