Five years after Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of the District’s Caven Point Marine Terminal in Jersey City, New Jersey, the facility is once again whole — and far more resilient — as construction is complete on a new main building, boat house, boat launch and laboratories each with modern features saving time, money and energy, and increasing productivity.
Caven Point and its fleet of working vessels is home to the District’s Physical Support Branch, Survey Section and Metro Area West, Construction Division, where nearly 100 District employees have been working from field trailers since fall 2012.
In early October, District staff began moving into a new main building that is far superior to the structure it replaced — a 1950’s-era building modified and adapted for more than 60 years to meet current needs.
A recent site visit illuminated a comprehensive makeover. Lucia Gamba, project engineer, Metro Area West, Construction Division, led a tour of the reconstructed facility. The improvements were immediately apparent, the centerpiece being a two-story, resilient to severe storms and flooding,” said Richard Thorsen, chief, Physical Support Branch, adding, “It will serve the District for many years to come.” $58 million, 47,000-square-foot state-of-the-art main building with many unique features making it substantially more resilient to damage and flooding from severe storms. “We now have a first-rate facility that’s significantly more resilient to severe storms and flooding,” said Richard Thorsen, chief, Physical Support Branch, adding, “It will serve the District for many years to come.”
MODERN BUILDING INFRASTRUCTURE
Modern components of the new main building include:
• WIND TURBINES: Four vertical-axis wind turbines on the roof with three spiral blades converting wind energy into electrical energy. The energy produced helps offset that needed from the electrical grid and will reduce long-term power costs.
• PHOTOVOLTAIC PANEL SYSTEM: An array of photovoltaic panels on the roof convert solar energy into electrical energy. Like the turbines, the energy produced helps offset energy needed from the utility grid, reducing electricity costs.
• SOLAR COLLECTOR TUBES: Solar collector tubes convert solar energy into thermal energy. Thermal energy produced offsets natural gas required to meet hot water needs of the facility, saving on energy costs.
• DUAL-PURPOSE TRAINING ROOM: A 60-seat training room for Operations staff that can be divided into two independent spaces. Outfitted with dedicated audio-visual equipment and wired and wireless network connectivity, it’s also a backup Emergency Operations Center should District offices in Lower Manhattan become inaccessible.
• REINFORCED CONCRETE COLUMNS: Under the Administration area of the new building, thick concrete columns elevate the building 13 feet — a height above the storm surge that occurred during Sandy. Such design reduces risk of future flooding and damage to that section of the structure housing offices, computers, furniture and communications equipment. Should the terminal flood again, water will flow underneath and around (instead of against) the building.
• TWO-STORY WINDOWS: Provides panoramic views of New York-New Jersey Harbor and outfitted with blast-resistant windows exceeding all hurricane-resistance requirements.
• WATER QUALITY & SOILS LABORATORY: Reconstitutes water-quality and soils-laboratory capabilities with improved configuration, layout and equipment. Laboratory work supports civil works initiatives such as dredging and coastal-storm risk-reduction projects.
• FULLY ACCESSIBLE: American with Disabilities (ADA)-compliant ramps and an elevator provide full access to the building for individuals with disabilities.
SEA CHANGE FOR HARBOR MISSIONS
• NEW BOAT LAUNCH: Benefits the Survey Section’s mission and other initiatives requiring trailered boats. Located on the western end of the facility, the launch includes a boat ramp and floating dock facilitating on-site launch and recovery of District vessels. Previously, boats were towed to a public public ramp at Liberty State Park; the new launch eliminates back-and-forth towing, saving time and providing greater operational control.
• NEW BOAT HOUSE: Provides long-term storage for eight trailer-based survey and utility boats and equipment. Heated storage and a sheltered service area extend vessels’ service life.
The new boat launch, floating dock and boat-storage facility are welcome additions to Caven Point,” said James Moore, project manager, adding, “Each will enhance the Survey Section’s mission and improve overall operations at the terminal.”
The new building aids productivity: It was designed through the charrette process where users had input into design, configuration and layout features, and since it is highly resilient, there’s much lower risk of work disruption from storms, flooding and power outages.
The revamped facility fits nicely with the District’s recently-completed Harbor Deepening Project dredging. To that end, Caven Point’s survey mission and drift-collection mission ensure area waters are sufficiently deep and free of navigational impediments that could disrupt the largest port on the East Coast supporting hundreds of jobs and billions in commerce. Also, its proximity to Corps construction projects in the north Jersey area make it an ideal base of operations for the Metro Area and Metro Area West Construction offices.
Going forward, there will be more storms, and we all hope the greater New York metro area never sees another like Sandy. But should that happen, Caven Point and its employees are in far better position to withstand extreme weather events and flooding. This is exactly where dedicated Corps of Engineers’ staff want to be: On solid footing serving the District, public, and the Nation.