For the first time in its nearly 100-year history, the Regional Plan Association (RPA) included recommendations to the city for combating the challenges that it will face in the next 30 years due to climate change.
At the beginning of its proposal for the Fourth Regional Plan, the RPA stated, “By 2050, more than two million people and 60 percent of the region’s power-generating capacity as well as dozens of miles of critical roads and rail lines will face a high risk of flooding—some of it permanently under water.”
One of the group’s recommendations for the region was a regional surge barrier.
“The most frequently considered barrier design would entail constructing a five-mile long ‘Outer Harbor Gateway’ across the New York Bight from Sandy Hook to the Rockaway Peninsula, in addition to a barrier at the East River,” the RPA said.
The RPA noted that part of this barrier would require engineering a network of 30 rivers and streams that would include such major waterways as “the Hudson, Passaic, Hackensack, and Raritan rivers; over a dozen tidal straits, such as the East River and Long Island Sound; and nearly 40 bays, inlets and coves, including Jamaica, Newark and Raritan bays.”
For communities such as the Rockaways, the RPA noted that “waterfront parks—which in many places effectively serve as the first line of defense against coastal flooding—can be designed to provide even better protection.”
Dani Simons, a spokeswoman for the RPA, said that when a third regional plan came out in the mid-1990s, there were “tiny mentions of climate change in it.”
“It meant something different then,” she said. “It was starting to be talked about. Climate change was far off in the future.”
She noted that in the past 20-plus years, enough changes had occurred in the region for climate change to be added as an impetus for the Fourth Regional Plan.