Bloomberg wants to spend billions on storm, climate change protection

Story highlights

  • Mayor wants $20 billion to combat storms, climate change
  • Plan calls for more protection, infrastructure improvements
  • "We still face real, immediate threats," Bloomberg says

Nearly eight months after Superstorm Sandy devastated low-lying areas, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called Tuesday for a $20 billion system of flood walls, levees and other measures to protect vulnerable regions from storms and the effects of climate change.

A 400-page report outlines "250 concrete recommendations for how to confront the risks we face, and build a stronger, more resilient city," Bloomberg said at a press conference.

"Sandy -- which tragically took the lives of 43 New Yorkers -- made it all too clear that, no matter how far we've come, we still face real, immediate threats," said Bloomberg.

"As bad as Sandy was, future storms could be even worse. In fact, because of rising temperatures and sea levels. Even a storm that's not as large as Sandy could -- down the road -- be even more destructive," Bloomberg told reporters.

While the idea of long-term climate change is a controversial notion politically, it's accepted as fact by most researchers.

The plan includes changes to the city's construction codes that will raise standards for new construction and infrastructure.

Proposed protections include surge barriers and flood walls in Manhattan's Lower East Side, Chinatown, the Financial District, parts of East Harlem and the Bronx, and Brooklyn's Redhook.

    The plan details ways to strengthen coastal defenses, utilities, fuel and food supply, health care, transportation and telecommunications. Analysis will include infrastructure and risks faced due to climate change, according to a city press release.

    The plan outlines working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to strengthen dune systems and beaches across Staten Island, South Brooklyn and Queens, including Coney Island and along the Rockaways.

    "Why shouldn't a tidal barrier in Coney Island also be a bridge to a new, protected waterfront park?" the mayor said. "Why shouldn't we integrate our coastal defenses into beautiful waterfront esplanades? Why can't a fortification that protects Lower Manhattan against rising seas -- also be the foundation for a vibrant new neighborhood?"

    The price tag of these proposed projects is tentatively $20 billion.

    Bloomberg said money already allocated for Sandy relief provides $10 billion. The city could receive at least $5 billion more from the federal government and still more from the state.

    Bloomberg has been mayor since 2002, and his final term is up at the end of the year.

    "The plan is incredibly ambitious -- and much of the work will extend far beyond the next 203 days. But we refused to pass responsibility for creating a plan onto the next administration," he said. "This is urgent work -- and it must begin now."