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FACT SHEET - New York/New Jersey Harbor & Tributaries Focus Area Feasibility Study

Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District
Published Nov. 5, 2021

DESCRIPTION: This coastal storm risk management study (CSRM) covers the New York & New Jersey Harbor and tidally affected tributaries encompassing all of New York City, the Hudson River to Troy, NY; the lower Passaic, Hackensack, Rahway, and Raritan Rivers; and the Upper and Lower Bays of New York Harbor, Newark, Jamaica, Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays; the Kill Van Kull, Arthur Kill and East River tidal straits; and western Long Island Sound. This focus area feasibility study is one of nine that the USACE North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study (NACCS) Report, issued January 2015, identified for further study.  This study is authorized by Public Law 84-71, June 15, 1955 (69 Stat. 132) which directs the examination of damages in coastal and tidal areas due to coastal storms such as hurricanes “and of possible means of preventing loss of human lives and damages to property, with due consideration of the economics of proposed breakwaters, seawalls, dikes, dams, and other structures, warning services, or other measures which might be required.”                                                                                   

The New York & New Jersey Harbor region was severely impacted from Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.  While several specific studies and projects by USACE, other federal agencies as well as state and local agencies have subsequently been performed or initiated within the study area following Hurricane Sandy, the broader New York & New Jersey Harbor and tributary region lacks a comprehensive plan for managing future potential coastal storm risks facing the region, including those from predicted sea level and extreme weather events. This study’s goal is to develop such a plan from the federal perspective and in a systems context.

STATUS: The study’s feasibility cost-sharing agreement (FCSA) was executed with the States of New York and New Jersey, represented by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, on July 15, 2016.  In addition to these two non-federal study sponsors, several other agency stakeholders, including New York City, are partnered with the study. 

USACE has scoped the study in coordination with the non-federal partners and other regional agency stakeholders resulting in a working study estimate of $19.4M and six years to complete the study with the issuance of a Chief of Engineer’s Report.  This study cost and schedule was given an interim exemption from the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) on October 31, 2018.

The initial focused array of alternatives have been formulated ranging from harbor-wide coastal storm risk management methods to land-based, perimeter CSRM methods, with three alternatives between.   All alternatives are anticipated to also include complementary non-structural measures and natural and nature based features as appropriate.  To be conservative, all other ongoing studies and projects by USACE and other agencies that can reasonably be expected to be implemented by 2020 are assumed to be in place as part of this study’s assumed future “without project” condition. Using USACE work plan and non-federal sponsor contributed funds, the study released an Interim Report on February 19, 2019 which identified the preliminary economic, environmental, engineering and other studies performed to date of these alternatives. Nine public meetings were held throughout the study area from March 2019 to November 2019 to present this report's findings. The Interim Report indicated that substantial coastal storm risk remains in vast regions of the study area even with the other planned efforts assumed to be in place.  

The New York and New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries coastal storm risk management feasibility study was not included in the Corps fiscal year 2020 or 2021 work plans for federal funding, so work on the study was substantially curtailed during those years with public meetings and engagements being postponed, along with delaying all upcoming milestones and reports.  The Notice of Intent (NOI) issued for the study was also withdrawn. 

However, In April 2021, the Corps was approved for further exemption (i.e., additional study time) by the Senior Official on behalf of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.  Also, as the study was included in the President's fiscal year 2022 budget request and appropriations bills developed in both houses of Congress, federal funding to the study has resumed in October 2021 and work on the study is resuming in earnest.  Subject to continued federal funding as well as non-federal matching contributions, the Corps, in full coordination with our non-federal study partners, anticipates tentatively selecting a plan to better manage current and future coastal storm risks for this critical and highly populated study area in spring of calendar year 2022.  Following this milestone, the Corps will release the Draft Feasibility Report and Draft Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in summer of 2022, with public review to follow.  The TSP will identify which suite of CSRM measures appear to best manage coastal flood risks that remain in the region from the federal perspective, consistent with new study authorities, federal laws, regulations and USACE planning guidance. Input received from public review of the draft report as well as comments from other federal, state and local agencies will help guide the Corps to refining and/or modifying the plan followed by further study evaluation and design.  This will lead to development of the Final Feasibility Report and Final Tier 1 EIS which is then used to develop the study’s final product, the Chief of Engineer’s Report, which is currently approved to be released in summer of 2024.

 

CONTACT:

Bryce W. Wisemiller
Project Manager
P: (917) 790-8307
Email: bryce.w.wisemiller@usace.army.mil
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District
Programs and Project Management Division, Civil Works Programs Branch
26 Federal Plaza
New York, NY 10278

CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS: NY-03, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 NJ-05, 06, 08, 09 10, 11, 12