New York City officials talk reconstruction in the wake of Sandy

By Patrick Farrell

On Thursday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke on future plans for rebuilding the city’s infrastructure and preparing for future storms in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

“The biggest challenge we face is adapting our city to the risks associated with climate change,” the mayor said, addressing an audience of officials from major utility and construction companies that operate in the city.

At the gathering that was cosponsored by the League of Conservation Voters and the Regional Plan Association, Bloomberg was introduced by environmental activist Al Gore.

“What will it take for the national government to wake up as this mayor as been telling us to do?” Gore asked.

Among the issues Bloomberg addressed, two main concerns were the construction of coastline protection infrastructure and the rebuilding of the city’s coastal areas hit hardest by the hurricane.

The mayor expressed concern over initiating multibillion-dollar projects, such as floodgates and sea walls.

“However, there may be some coastline protections that we can build that will mitigate the impact of storm surge,” Bloomberg said.

The mayor said city officials have been ordered to look into other, more affordable options, such as berms, levees, and sand dunes.

Bloomberg also said that the investor-owned energy company Consolidated Edison committed $250 million of its own resources to help better prepare the city for future storms.

In a Senate meeting the same day, Metropolitan Transit Authority chairman Joseph Lhota estimated the costs of rebuilding New York City’s subway system and infrastructure to be an upwards of $5 billion.

The city’s South Ferry Station – located in one of the areas hit hardest by the storm – may cost $600 million alone to rebuild, Lhota told Bloomberg Businessweek.

Lhota refered to the station as a “large fish tank,” and noted that with the station’s location near the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, rebuilding the South Ferry is of “critical importance.”

“We cannot solve the problems associated with climate change alone here in New York City,” Bloomberg said, “but I think it’s fair to say we can lead the way.”