Officials are pushing for speedy repairs to a portion of the seawall damaged by Hurricane Sandy that has already caused parts of the bike and pedestrian path to be closed and which could impact traffic along the Belt Parkway as well.
State Senator Marty Golden sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) on November 14 requesting that ACE prioritize the affected portion of the seawall – which had previously been repaired after Hurricane Irene.
The damaged section, which is between 150 and 200 feet in length, is in a portion of the seawall two and a half miles in length, between the Verrazano Bridge and Bay Parkway, that local officials have long been trying to get repaired. The section of the seawall between the bridge and the 69th Street Pier had previously been renovated because of its deteriorated condition.
In the letter to Colonel Paul Owens, in ACE’s New York office, Golden contended, “The damage has also created new flooding issues for the Belt Parkway itself with the likelihood of weather related closures increasing significantly.”
Golden also noted that the damaged portions of the bike and foot path have been barricaded to prevent people from straying into what is clearly a danger zone.
While Golden expressed a hope in his letter that ACE could move forward with work on the entire section of seawall, he concluded, “Regardless it is imperative that work on the damaged section begin immediately to prevent further erosion as well as to protect the safety of the community and use of the Belt Parkway.”
“It’s a hazard,” stressed Golden’s spokesperson John Quaglione. “It’s not something that can be left unattended. We are at the point where we need an emergency fix.” While it’s important to get the whole section of seawall restored, something that would cost millions of dollars to accomplish, “We need the Army Corps to focus on that part first,” Quaglione added.
Marnee Elias-Pavia, the district manager of Community Board 11, agreed. Noting that other sections of the seawall had been breached during Sandy as well, and that the end of Bay Parkway where there is no seawall had also suffered damage, she told this paper, “Something needs to be done to protect the infrastructure and the integrity of the Belt Parkway. Temporary fixes just aren’t going to work. A long-term solution has to be addressed.”
But, for ACE to take action, it needs Congress to act, said spokesperson Justin Ward. “There is going to be a disaster relief act and ACE can be appropriated through this act,” Ward explained. Alternately, emergency work can also be authorized by Congress.
With few exceptions, “We can’t do anything till we get the authorization and appropriation,” Ward stressed.