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Queens Chronicle

Cuomo calls for new storm protections

$16.7 billion earmarked to protect transportation, energy, infrastructure

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Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 10:57 am, Thu Jan 16, 2014.

The city’s two airports and a handful of Queens neighborhoods are expected to benefit directly from a $16.7 billion initiative announced in Albany on Tuesday by Gov. Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden.

The title — “Reimagining New York for a New Reality” — is a mouthful. But it translates into state funding for energy, transportation and infrastructure to protect areas of the state that have proven vulnerable to major weather events since Cuomo took office in 2011.

Cuomo said the proposal will completely transform the way New York builds and protects infrastructure, safeguards its energy supply and prepares both first responders and civilians.

“The new reality in New York is we are getting hit by 100-year-storms every couple of years,” Cuomo said in a copy of his statement issued by his office. “We have to wake up to that new reality by completely reimagining our state to be ready for any future disaster.”

Weather-related upgrades to the airports have been anticipated before Hurricane Sandy shut down John F. Kennedy International Airport and placed much of LaGuardia underwater in October 2012.

Cuomo on Tuesday committed more than $257 million to the effort, which will include tidal gates, drainage upgrades, communication improvements and fuel supply protections at both airports.

LaGuardia, which became inundated when Sandy crossed Long Island Sound at high tide, also will receive a flood wall.

Rosedale and Springfield Gardens/Brookville are among 22 localities that the governor will add to the existing NY Rising Communities Reconstruction program.

Inclusion on the list makes the communities eligible for federal disaster recovery block grants of up to $3 million apiece for the future preparation of “storm resiliency” plans.

Cuomo also has earmarked $1.9 billion for coastal protection, an effort that will involve the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state’s departments of Environmental Protection and Parks.

As expected, a Jamaica Bay/Southeast Queens Flood Protection program is on the governor’s list.

Cuomo’s outline includes the creation of natural barriers along 150 acres in the Jamaica Bay/Spring Creek area.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority already has embarked on a mission to harden its tunnels — both rail and automobile — subway stations and other infrastructure from a repeat of the flooding damage caused by Sandy.

Cuomo called for $5.1 billion in state funds for the subways, including the rebuilding of six tunnels into and out of Manhattan.

Studies already underway are examining the best ways to either seal tunnels and subway stations or better ways to drain or pump them out in the aftermath of a major storm event.

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