Will The Biden Administration Invest In Climate Resiliency For Lower Manhattan?
It’s been nine years since Superstorm Sandy inundated Lower Manhattan and other parts of the city, causing billions in damage. In 2019, the city made a resiliency plan to battle future flooding and erosion from climate change and storms, but the plan has yet to break ground, and the COVID-19 pandemic delayed it even further.
With the Covid relief package signed and underway, advocates are now hoping the Biden administration will focus on relief for metropolitan areas and fight climate change long-term. And they want Lower Manhattan’s plan at the top of the list. The plan, called the Lower Manhattan Resilience Project, was released in March 2019 and includes $500 million worth of investments in climate resilience, including adding flood walls that can be flipped up during a storm, raising edges along the waterfront and adding more green space to absorb floodwaters.
President and CEO of New York City’s Regional Plan Association Tom Wright co-authored an opinion piece in The Hill last month, urging the federal government to act quickly on projects that strengthen cities, including mitigation from storms like Sandy:
“There is one urgent priority our federal government can address to help cities jump start their recovery: investing in infrastructure. It is the single most effective way to stimulate our economy and rebuild our country to be more resilient, equitable and prosperous.”
Wright co-authored the piece with Alicia John-Baptiste, president and CEO of SPUR, a nonprofit public policy organization in the San Francisco Bay Area, and MarySue Barrett, president of the Metropolitan Planning Council in Chicago.
They argue that cities are key to national recovery, and that the federal government must prepare cities for the effects of climate change.
“Putting federal support behind major renewable energy growth industries — including offshore wind and climate change mitigation infrastructure like the Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency project — help us reach goals, stimulate our economy and build more sustainable cities.”
The advocates also want to see federal funding for the Gateway Program, which will help add more tunnels to New Jersey under the Hudson River and fix existing ones that were damaged during Sandy, to prevent further economic shockwaves.
“Our cities have come out stronger after global wars, depressions and pandemics. We have built our country on an uncompromising understanding that we can and will continue to improve — and that the future will be better than the past.”
With President Biden having promised a $2 trillion infrastructure project during his campaign, but with details pending for his Build Back Better legislation, Lower Manhattan is watching: hurricane season starts again in just three months.