The plan for Asbury Park also involves using several inland lakes to capture and store runoff, while also calling for rethinking the city’s boardwalk and making use of relatively wide local streets to manage water flow, Hensold said.
The lakes – Deal and Wesley – have a “very hard edge,” she said, meaning that the water meets the land without much to slow it should the lakes overflow. The team is considering ways, potentially using vegetation and landscaping, to soften that edge. The boardwalk’s edge, which runs in a straight line, could be altered and integrated with the dunes. The streets could be pitched differently and landscaped in a way to both slow water runoff and direct water to areas where it could be stored, she said.
As for the barrier islands -- in this case a region encompassing Toms River, Berkeley Township, Seaside Heights and Park and some of the smaller towns in the area -- Sasaki is exploring how the region’s tourism industry could be expanded geographically to include some of the inland communities.
“There is a lot of development on the barrier islands, a lot of second homes and they have a lot of different characteristics,” Hensold said. “And (the barrier islands are) tied to the tourism industry, which is important for local economy but also has an effect on state economy.”
The region, however, has “extreme vulnerability to sea level rise,” she said. “People need to address this, so we are looking to diversity the tourism industry in that area and create more opportunity for tourism inland.”
Part of the plan will include finding potential opportunities for inland recreation (for trails, camping and boating, among other possibilities) and new transportation networks (bus rapid transit, water taxis, aerial trams) to connect the region to the barrier islands and the rest of the state.
“The beach is core to Jersey Shore culture, a central part, and that doesn’t go away, but we are looking at a more diverse set of options,” she said.
A group of designers looking at the future of the coastline stretching from Rhode Island to the Delaware Bay is wondering if it is time for a new, manmade barrier reef to be built 10 miles out from the shoreline.
The designers, engineers, architects, and scientists with the WXY/West 8 team are investigating what they call a “big-scale” regional solution that would be consistent with the natural landscape while allowing for ecosystem restoration and other potential uses.
Claire Weisz -- an architect with WXY and spokesperson for a team that also includes West 8, the Stevens Institute of Technology, Arcadis, Verisk, AIR and a number of other experts -- said the purpose is “to understand if there is a regional solution that can have economic benefits both large and small.”
“New Jersey is particularly affected by storms and rising water, rising sea levels, because of its configuration,” Weis said. “The work we have been doing and will continue to do is to see if there is a larger-scale design solution that can lower the surge levels across the board.”
The manmade reef would be designed for multiple uses or “opportunities,” she said. The team is looking into how its impact on water flow and the tides might affect boating and other recreational uses, whether it could result in ecosystem renewal, and if it could house alternative energy generators like wind turbines. It would not be visible from the beach.
“The design approach is always to look at how everything can do more than one thing,” she said.
While the effort is a mult-state one, the impact on New Jersey would be immense, she said.
“To put it bluntly, New Jersey has a particularly vulnerable coastline with many complexities,” she said, adding that the “the exposure is significant” and is compounded by the angle of the shoreline.
“There is a huge amount of water exposure and wind and tides and everything else that affects the New Jersey shoreline, that also makes it the Jersey coast,” she said. “But there is a lot of risk and vulnerability.”