After Sandy, feds mull plan for artificial islands



After Sandy, feds mull plan for artificial islands

SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J. (AP) — A string of artificial islands off the coast of New Jersey and New York could blunt the impact of storm surges that proved so deadly during Superstorm Sandy, according to a proposal vying for attention and funding as the region continues its recovery.

It’s a big proposal that would cost $10 billion to $12 billion. But it’s also the kind of innovative idea that federal officials requested as they consider how best to protect the heavily populated region from future storms.

“We’ve discussed this with the governor’s office of Recovery and Resiliency and the Department of Environmental Protection, and they all look at me like, 'Whoa! This is a big deal!” said Alan Blumberg, a professor at New Jersey’s Stevens Institute of Technology. “Yes, it is a big deal. It can save lives and protect property.”

The “Blue Dunes” proposal is part of Rebuild By Design, a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to come up with novel ways to protect against the next big storm. It is one of 10 projects that will be evaluated and voted on next week, but there’s no guarantee any of them will receive funding. Other ideas include building sea walls around cities, re-establishing oyster colonies in tidal flats to blunt wave action and creating water-absorbent nature and recreational preserves.

The artificial islands plan was created by Stevens Institute, along with the WXY architectural firm and West 8 Urban Design and Landscape Architecture. It is designed to blunt the worst effect of Sandy: the storm surge that pounded the coast. From Maryland to New Hampshire, the storm was blamed for 159 deaths, and New Jersey and New York alone claimed a total of nearly $79 billion in damage.
“How do you protect New Jersey and New York at the same time from the storm of the future?” Blumberg asked. “Our idea is to build a chain of islands, like a long slender banana. The wave action and storm surge will reflect off these islands and go back out to sea rather than hitting the coast. Barnegat Bay would not be pounded, nor would lower Manhattan or Hoboken.”

King Canute rides again!
Why, pray tell, should the Feds pay for such a scheme? If it is to protect lives & property in NY & NJ, let them pay for it.
If artificial islands do work and the federal gov’t is going to pay for them I’d have to say Gulf coast and South Atlantic states should get first dibs.

OR we could apply some logic – get the federal gov’t out of disaster relief and flood insurance and let each state deal with its own disasters.


I think the artificial island idea is ridiculous and too costly. We need natural disaster relief for folks so that has to stay, though it needs to be used for the victims more than it is. And when that relief is provided it should be used to rebuild what was there and all the land be returned to the residents, not turned over for some building contractor to make a fortune on and consequently make it too expensive for original occupants too return home. (Like was done with Katrina.)

I say that all areas near bodies of water, like rivers or the ocean, need to be freed of heavy population sites. We need to stop building right on top of the water fronts. If that means we have to leave 3 - 5 miles distance from the water than so be it. Build further in and stop all plans to build near the water in the future.

People could still have access to the shores and rivers for fishing and such. But this is temporary access. You know, stuff like camping, fishing, beach going, etc. Of course there would be some allowance for boats, ships and fishing trade, but stop building residential areas so near the water. Leave the water fronts, rivers, lakes as public domain so as not to restrict use to the rich only.


Depending on the area, the weather patterns, etc. it is plausible that a series of islands could make a difference and save lives. If it is expected to work I say go for it. If the islands are used for temporary residences (campgrounds, etc.) then there is a potential to make money off of it in the long run to recover the costs to build the islands. Then, when storms come they are easily evacuated.


Well, I might go for that view of it. I still hold more hope in not allowing residential sites along major water ways or oceans. Just me.


Something would have to be worked out to turn the islands into a state or national park of some sort. Perhaps that would eliminate the issues with them turning into simply more high-risk, high-priced real estate.

It always blows my mind that anyone would build permanent homes in some areas. There will always be some risk in some areas. Earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes are a fact of life. But, the people that place themselves in homes on the sides of unstable hills, the sides of volcanoes, etc. seem to pay ridiculous sums of money for “prime” real estate that is more like a death trap.

I have family in coastal areas, but they always pack up and move inland if they appear to be at risk of a hurricane. We have plenty of notice for most hurricanes, and the people that purposefully stay behind to protect their homes clearly put their possessions in higher regard than their lives.


Barrier islands are a naturally occurring phenomenon, and they exist up and down the Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf Coast. They tend to get in the way of shipping, though, which is why major cities are often not directly protected by a barrier island. Another problem is they are prime real estate and attract a lot of residential development.

Both problems can be reduced by some degree. The solution to the first problem is a matter of proper engineering. The second problem will require sound public policy, which is politically difficult to achieve.

There is some logic to federal involvement in disaster relief. When a state has suffered a major disaster, it will have its resources severely impaired. Recovery will happen, but it will be slow. This will dampen the economy, not just in the state, but nationally as well. Getting the state back online as quickly as possible serves everyone’s interest.


The problem is that most major residential sites (New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Seattle) are along oceans, large lakes (ie the Great Lakes), and major water ways. We, as a country, have to do something, either put up with the wather damage, move the cities inland, or build coastal islands. :shrug:


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