Aerial photo shot Wednesday March 16, 2022, shows part of Oakwood Beach that will mark the end of the East Shore Seawall. (Staten Island Advance/Shane DiMaio)

NY - East Shore Seawall price tag tops $2 billion, but feds ready to move forward

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — A long-awaited Staten Island resiliency project recently got a new eye-popping price tag, but the federal agency tasked with its construction is finally ready to move forward.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the over $2 billion cost of the South Shore of Staten Island Coastal Storm Risk Management Project, commonly called the East Shore Seawall, in a validation report released earlier this month.

With the federal government covering the overwhelming majority of that cost, the project represents one of the largest federal infrastructure investments in the Island’s history, and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island/South Brooklyn) said she’s ready for things to move forward.

“This is the most critical infrastructure project for Staten Island in generations, and it’s going to pay dividends for the homeowners and community assets,” she recently told the Advance/ “It’s a critical investment for the future resiliency of Staten Island and to prevent the devastation we saw during Hurricane Sandy in another major weather event.”

The Army Corps sent an economic justification report to Congress earlier this month outlining how the Seawall will protect life, property and critical institutions like Staten Island’s University Hospital’s Ocean Breeze campus, schools and the 122nd Precinct.

Malliotakis, who has been one of the leading advocates for the project at the federal level, tied the price increases to inflation and a series of delays that she credited city Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Rohit Aggarwala with helping her overcome.

The project will consist of a buried seawall from Fort Wadsworth to Oakwood Beach, a flood wall running from the DEP’s Oakwood Wastewater Treatment Plant, and a tidal gate on Hylan Boulevard that will only be deployed during coastal storm events severe enough to potentially flank the other structures.

Talk of the project dates back at least to a series of storms in the 1950s, but the federal government first authorized a feasibility study for a coastal storm risk management project along the Island’s coast in 1993.

Motivation for the project was insufficient until Hurricane Sandy decimated the Island’s East Shore in 2012, and the seawall received its initial funding in 2016.

Since then, the project has faced a variety of delays, including the design conflicts and the environmental remediation needed near Great Kills Park that date back to 2020. Last year, city officials said those conflicts had been resolved.

An NYPD anti-terror flyover in 2005 preparing for a possible “dirty bomb” scenario originally found the radiation around Great Kills Park, which is part of Gateway National Recreation Area. Information about the radiation wasn’t made public until 2006 after a congressional survey.

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