Would a Massive Sea Wall Protect New York City from Fierce Storms?

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The devastating realities of climate change are becoming more imminent with each major, unprecedented storm that strikes. As a result, coastal communities are forced to consider options that would protect them from sea surges during storms, and some engineers in New York City think they might have found a solution: a six-mile-long sea wall in the outer New York Harbor.

The proposed wall would cost an estimated $119 Billion, and it has sparked debate among New York residents concerned that the barrier may backfire. Supporters of the barrier believe the structure would protect the city, its residents and its landmarks without cutting off the waterfront. Those in opposition, however, fear that it would have adverse effects on marine life, push sewage into the waterways and not hold up to rising sea levels. Some even fear that it would send storm surges towards Long Island and northern Queens.

The wall would need to be approved by New York City, New York State, and New Jersey to be implemented, and they would need to cover 35% of the cost. Congress would also need to agree to cover the remaining 65% of the cost. The Army Corps of Engineers has four additional options that it is currently studying, including combinations of smaller sea walls and shore-based measures. As the city continues to struggle with responding to Hurricane Sandy seven years later and storms threaten to become worse in coming years, one thing is certain: Some sort of consensus must be reached to protect New York’s residents.