Schumer Wants Belt Parkway Flooding Fix
Senator Charles E. Schumer, City Council Member Lewis A. Fidler, Assemblyman Alan Maisel and Assemblywoman Helene E. Weinstein are urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to approve the Project Partnership Agreement for the Plumb Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction project that would prevent the Belt Parkway, an essential highway connecting Brooklyn to other boroughs, John F. Kennedy International Airport and Long Island, from being washed away by a future major storm. Plumb Beach, a critical shorefront buffer between Sheepshead Bay and the Belt Parkway, has suffered from erosion for many years and has been hammered by recent storms, including Hurricanes Ida and Irene. Schumer, Fidler, Maisel and Weinstein said today that signing off on the agreement is an essential step in protecting a highway that thousands of residents, businesses, and commuters rely on every day.
“Hurricanes Irene and Ida dealt a one-two punch to Plumb Beach and right now another major storm could be the final knockout blow that would leave Belt Parkway blocked and impassible for days” said Schumer. “By approving the Project Partnership Agreement, the Army Corps of Engineers would be making a critical step in salvaging a vital highway that many, many New York residents rely on every day, for their morning commute, to conduct business, and to visit friends and loved ones. This agreement will be a clear signal that the Army Corps takes the threat seriously.” “Not only is Plumb Beach an important area park and waterfront resource, it is a vital buffer to the commercial lifeline that is the Belt Parkway” said Fidler. “I am sure that no one needs to visualize the grim reality of what would happen if the parkway were to be washed away for any period of time. For many months now, I have been working with Senator Schumer, the Mayor and our other local officials to get the beach remediation project done. They keep telling us that its close. That will be of little solace if it is too late. We need to get government moving and make this happen and make it happen now!”
“Restoration of Plumb Beach is long overdue” said Maisel. “The Belt Parkway is such an important transportation artery for South Brooklyn and the deterioration of Plumb Beach poses an unacceptable risk. While we’ve had a mild winter so far, we must be prepared for the next storm.”
“I join with my colleagues in urging swift approval of the Project Partnership Agreement for the Plumb Beach Coastal Damage Reduction project. It is critical that this agreement be approved to help prevent and protect the Plumb Beach from further erosion,” said Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein.
The Belt Parkway is an essential highway for residents of Brooklyn, the rest of New York City and Long Island. It handles the flow of commercial traffic and commuters between lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island and is a key connection to John F. Kennedy International Airport and Nassau and Suffolk counties. It is also a major emergency route for New York City and important buried utilities.
Currently Plumb Beach, a small, mile long strip of beach, is the only buffer between critical infrastructure and Sheepshead Bay. This beach borders the eastbound lane of the Belt Parkway and while it was originally a forty foot beach, it has suffered from years of neglect and severe erosion. The past couple of years have been particularly harsh. In 2009 Hurricane Ida battered the Plum Beach coastline pushing the protective break line several feet. Ida also undermined a bike path that runs next to the highway causing a portion to collapse onto the beach – a particularly troubling incident and a sign of what could happen to the Parkway if the beach is not protected and reinforced. This past August, during Hurricane Irene, waters reached the highway and left just ten to fifteen feet of beach.
The New York City Parks Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have yet to approve the Project Partnership Agreement, which spells out the terms, conditions and responsibilities specific to the restoration project. While the Army Corps has taken charge by forming an interagency team and formulating a comprehensive solution which has been agreed upon by the team and the local Community Board, work on Plumb Beach cannot start until a Project Partnership Agreement has been approved by the Army Corps. Once this agreement has been reached, the USACE can finalize their funding and work on protecting the Parkway Beltway can start.
Schumer, Fidler, Maisel and Weinstein called on the USACE to approve the Project Partnship Agreement as soon as possible to protect local residents and the thousands of businesses and commuters who rely on the Belt Parkway every day.