Federal Study Shows Need For Seawall Repair on Roosevelt Island
NEW YORK, NY - Originally requested in September of 1997, the final Roosevelt Island Seawall Study performed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE), was received this week by the Roosevelt Island Operating Committee (RIOC) and Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY). The study investigated the condition of the seawall that structurally supports Roosevelt Island as well as the non-sea-walled, South-End shoreline of the island. The seawall study states, “While imminent failure is not a concern, an appropriate preventative maintenance program should be undertaken.”
Congresswoman Maloney wrote to the USACOE on May 16, 2001 to urge completion of the report saying that delays for the study were, “potentially damaging to the deteriorating infrastructure on the island.” Under Maloney’s direction, her staff contacted RIOC and the USACOE on numerous occasions over the past two years, to inquire about the study’s delay and push for action.
Today, Maloney said, “We can breathe a little easier knowing there is no immediate danger for residents on the island, but if the repair work is delayed as much as this study was, costs will certainly go up and the seawall will deteriorate even more. Now that we know the extent of the damage, RIOC should make every effort move forward with repair work immediately.”
The study advocates wall repair, rather than wall replacement that could cost 10 times as much, for the existing seawall, noting particular concern for the Northwest shoreline and the Eastern sections adjacent to an underground steam-tunnel. The estimated cost for this repair work is $2,582,000. Besides repair work, the USACOE recommends further testing of the walls and the establishment of a design/maintenance standard for the seawall. To protect the Southern shoreline from storms and erosion, the study finds a vinyl sheet pile (a wall of hard plastic anchored into the ground) to be the most cost-effective and environmentally desirable. The estimated cost is $3,640,000, bringing the total cost for seawall maintenance and shore stabilization to $6,222,000.
Regarding funding, the study finds that future storm damage would not put the island’s infrastructure at enough risk to warrant a federal shore protection project. The study does state, however, that the island may receive federal assistance for the maintenance of the deteriorating steam tunnel that serves two hospitals, and runs the length of the island, through the Continuing Authorities Program and the Flood Control Act of 1946. Finally, USACOE advises that federal funds may be available through the New York Harbor Collection and Removal of Drift Debris Project to remove shoreline and river debris during repair work. Maloney said, “I will be working to secure whatever federal funds are warranted for this important project and I look forward to working with state and city officials to move forward with all aspects of the project as well.”