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New Jersey By Design: Five Visionary Projects for Rebuilding After Sandy

“That is the base condition and why you have these surges, the tidal and ocean flooding comes in from north and south and why flash flooding is concentrated in former marsh area,” he said.

The issue, Pittman said, is that the water comes into the city much more quickly than it can be discharged. So the approach OMA is using for the master plan, which was developed through discussions with local officials, is four-pronged, he said: Resist the water by creating natural or man-made sea walls; delay the movement of flood waters by redirection or absorption; store flood waters; and discharge the water.

The First Prong

The resistance prong will require floodwalls at the two main breach points, Weehawken Cove and Hoboken Station, though the city can make use of some of its existing infrastructure, Pittman said.

The redevelopment of Hoboken Station at the southern end of the city into a hardened, flood-resistance facility is a key element of the plan, Pittman said. The station would work with the nearby coastline, which would be built up and landscaped, to repel rising floodwaters and prevent a breach to the south.

To the north, redevelopment of parkland along Weehawken Cove could be used as a natural floodwall, with higher, landscaped elevations along the water to prevent a breach there.

The second prong would require both city and local residents to engage in smaller-scale projects that could slow rainwater, including construction of gardens designed to absorb rainwater or the use of so-called green roofs, which absorb some water and slow its runoff and delays its pooling in the streets.

The third prong builds upon this by creating a green belt around the city on unused train tracks. The belt would both direct water away from residential areas and act as storage until storms pass, he said.

In addition, the city could redesign underground parking and other facilities to serve as storage for water when major storms hit. It also could build water storage under its parkland and encourage local residents to put in place their own storage strategies.

Taken together, these efforts would be designed to slow the flow of water and allow for it to be pumped back into the river once storms pass, and they will be included in a master plan that it could be implemented over time and with the hope that the stakeholders – the residents and businesses -- will make enough small changes to alleviate the need for massive infrastructure investment, he said.

“The point is there are things that can be done on many different scales,” he said. “And because of that, you can get to that final level of resiliency in a more efficient way.”

The Hoboken proposal has been mentioned in relation to the current scandal concerning allegations by Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer that Sandy aid was withheld from the city due to her lack of support of a downtown redevelopment project. Zimmer has expressed support for the Rebuild by Design effort, but has questioned whether the project will ultimately be supported by the Christie administration. While the competition is a federal effort, a HUD spokesman told the Associated Press that state officials would have some say over what projects move forward.

Jersey Shore: Resilience and the Beach

There is more than one Jersey Shore. That is the approach that the Sasaki team is taking to its resiliency plan for the state’s coastal regions.

Sasaki, an international planning and design firm based in Massachusetts, is working with the Arup engineering firm and the Rutgers University Institute of Marine and Coastal Science to develop a multipart plan for the Jersey Shore focusing on the Raritan Bay area at the north, Asbury Park in the center of the state, and the Barnegat Peninsula and Toms River in the south.

The beach and coastal typologies are not uniform, said Brie Hensold, a senior associate with Sasaki and project manager for the team, so the team decided it was important to consider various scenarios.

To the north, the focus is on the towns of Union Beach and Keansburg, which were flooded by both surges from the Raritan Bay and the overflow of neighboring creeks. The communities border Natco Lake, a manmade inland lake that the Sasaki team thinks can be the centerpiece of a flood-mitigation plan that also expands recreational opportunities for both communities. The plan involves potentially “reshaping” the bay coastline of both towns to lessen the potential for ocean surges.

The design also would turn the lake area into a fully functioning recreational area, with trails and boat access, Hensold said. The lake currently is underused, she said, and “part of the plan is to better integrate it” into the life of both communities.

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