Nearly five years to the day after Hurricane Sandy inundated Hoboken, the city got word from the federal government that it was releasing $230 million to fund a huge project to protect the municipality and neighboring towns from flooding and storm surges.
The authorization to use the funds by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is a significant milestone for a project, now in its design and environmental-permitting phase.
The project, selected as part of a national competition sponsored by HUD, combines innovative features, including the use of green infrastructure in new development, to protect three communities from the kind of storm surges that left parts of them inundated after Hurricane Sandy.
“Five years after Sandy, we have reached an incredible milestone that ensures this innovative project is on track to protect our region for decades to come and serve as a national model for resiliency,’’ said Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer.
The Rebuild by Design project aims to minimize the impacts from storm surges and heavy-rainfall flooding, as well as mitigate adverse impacts to public health, while providing benefits that will enhance the urbanized area.
The project calls for construction of flood structures and stormwater control systems to protect areas from flooding. The border between Hoboken and Weehawken, and the southern end of Hoboken, adjacent to Jersey City, that, during Sandy, acted as funnels for flooding. Storm surge rushed through the areas. Combined with inland flooding, it left Hoboken, effectively, a temporary island.
“This project serves as a model for how to address threats from storm surge in urban areas,’’ said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin. His agency collaborated with the city, HUD, and the state Department of Community Affairs in developing the project.
The proposed system will utilize natural higher ground to maximize protection and will be designed to blend in seamlessly with the urban streetscape. It will provide protection for critical infrastructure such as the North Hudson Sewerage Authority, as well as public-safety facilities and three fire stations and a hospital.
The project calls for construction of a flood-resistant structure stretching from 19th Street in Weehawken and extending south to Hoboken, slightly inland from the river. An additional flood-resistant structure will be built along the southern end of Hoboken.
The design and selection process accommodated the communities’ desire to provide storm-surge protection while preserving waterfront access and views of the river and New York City skyline.
Construction is expected to begin in 2019 and be completed in 2022.