Huge barrier proposed for New York Bay to protect against storm surge raises environmental concerns

New York Bay

A huge barrier spanning New York Bay is among the proposals by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect the metropolitan area against storm surge.

According to the AP: “The barriers proposed for New York Harbor are ‘conceptual,’ without any details released to the public beyond dotted lines on a map. One alternative calls for a surge barrier at the mouth of the harbor from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, to Breezy Point in Queens. Others call for multiple shorter barriers — from Staten Island to Brooklyn and at various other locations blocking tributaries.”

NY/NJ Outer Harbor Barrier (Alternative 2), a barrier running from Sandy Hook to Rockaway (Army Corps of Engineers)


Riverkeeper, the environmental organization, has weighed in, saying such a barrier would threaten the Hudson’s existence as a living river. “From Day One, these offshore barriers would start to restrict the tidal flow, contaminant and sediment transport, and migration of fish. They would impede the tidal ‘respiration’ of the river. We fear that a slow death would be inflicted on the river, and that in time, the barriers would slowly, but surely, strangle the life out of the river as we know it.”

Riverkeeper said the only acceptable alternative would be the one that relies entirely on shoreline-based floodwalls and levees.

In its public informational materials, the Corps of Engineers depicts examples of some of the alternatives in use in the Netherlands, the U.K. and New Orleans.

Maeslant Barrier – near Rotterdam (Army Corps of Engineers)


A seawall on Martha’s Vineyard. (Army Corps of Engineers)

An informational meeting will be held in Poughkeepsie Wednesday, July 11 from 6-8 p.m. at the Hudson Valley Community Center, 110 S. Grand Ave.