Two Bridges flood protections will raise East River esplanade up to two feet

Curbed: The Two Bridges area is Manhattan’s most vulnerable to flooding, sitting some seven feet above sea level. Flood barriers and new drainage infrastructure are planned to protect the neighborhood from prolific storm surge, but that alone will not fend off climate change.

Now, the city plans to elevate a nearly mile-long stretch of the East River esplanade as much as two feet in some sections in anticipation of rising sea levels. The effort is part of the $203-million Brooklyn Bridge-Montgomery Coastal Resilience project set to break ground in 2021 and be operational by 2024, almost 12 years after Superstorm Sandy flooded lower Manhattan.

“Since we’re going to be doing construction out here anyway, while we’re implementing this flood protection system ... let’s build up the ground a little bit,” Lauren Micir, an associate at the engineering firm AECOM, hired by the city to lead the project, said at a Wednesday public meeting. “This is something that we’re doing to reduce the concern and worry about that sunny-day tidal flooding.”

The flood defense system will stretch from the Brooklyn Bridge to Montgomery Street with elevations as little as a few inches up to two feet. Steps and ramps will be installed to ensure locals can easily navigate the new platform. Beneath the esplanade, officials aim to beef up drainage infrastructure to divert storm water runoff from flooding the neighborhood. Above it, there will be an interconnected weave of flood barriers.

Much of the 0.82-mile section of the Two Bridge waterfront will feature flip-up barriers that can be triggered to form a 10-foot shield ahead of major storms, which will also help preserve locals’ waterfront views. In sections where that isn’t feasible due to below-ground infrastructure, roller gates will be installed near posts sticking up from the esplanade—the only piece of protections that will be up right year-round. Keeping sight lines and public access is a core project goal, Micir notes. Read more>>