Jersey City, New Jersey is moving forward with plans to erect a massive two mile, $2 billion sea wall along the city’s “gold coast” in an effort to prevent future instances of catastrophic flooding. The city was one of many coastal communities in New Jersey that was hit hard by storm surge during 2012’s Hurricane Sandy.
According to The Jersey Journal, the two-mile long proposed wall would create a “seal” of sorts between the city’s northern border with Hoboken and Liberty State Park to the south. While Jersey City already has waterfront retaining walls, the current walls are 10 feet above sea level; the proposed expansion would add an additional eight feet. During Hurricane Sandy, storm surge reached a maximum height of fourteen feet above sea level, and caused tens of millions of dollars in property damage to the city, submerging multiple neighborhoods under the intense floods.
Project estimates vary wildly, with The Jersey Journal reporting that the wall could take anywhere between five and fifteen years to complete. In a manner similar to Manhattan’s Battery Park City, the new wall installation will be built 200 feet east of the current Jersey City coast line, and land will be filled in between to create a new, expanded coastline that comes out to the wall, with a large swath of high-land value property.
The plan is on the cutting edge of a surge in climate change adaptation projects in the tri-state area following Hurricane Sandy. With sea levels rising by as much as two feet in the next three decades, coastal cities are forced to consider how to deal with the very real possibility that a significant portion of their waterfront territory will be underwater in the near future.
However, not everyone is sold on the sea wall as a long term solution. Jeff Tittel, New Jersey chapter director for the Sierra Club, told The Jersey Journal that storm surges will only get larger in the coming years and will “find a way” to get around or over retaining sea walls. “You cannot do this in a town-by-town approach. One town’s wall will be the next town’s bigger flood.”