Stantec is leading a design team for a U.S. $165-million project to rebuild and raise the existing wharf and esplanade on the waterfront at Lower Manhattan’s Battery Park to protect the area from rising high tides resulting from climate change.
The Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Battery project will span one third of a mile of waterfront at the 25-acre park and raise the esplanade by five feet. The project is slated to start in late 2021 and take 1.5 to two years to complete.
Several complex issues will be addressed in the design, including in-water construction, interior drainage and integration of the new wharf elevation with the park, Greg Sprich, principal and civil engineer at Stantec, says.
“Likely the biggest construction challenge is phasing construction in a manner that it will not impact all of the tourism operations that are happening at Battery Park,” he says, pointing out that includes water taxi and various boat cruise line operations from the park.
He says as sections of the wharf are removed, the remaining portions will be shored up to maintain the wharf’s operation throughout construction. The elevated wharf will include sheet piling and rip-rap protection.
Sprich says paramount is that the design can adapt over time to deal with the progressive rise of tides and sea level.
Stantec’s New York City office is handling the project through various departments including civil and structural marine engineering and its landscape architecture division. A team of subconsultants could include archaeologists, historic preservationists, art conservationists and those acting on behalf of public outreach and for environmental review.
“There is a fair amount that goes into the project in addition to the technical engineering…,” he says.
A separate project at the back of Battery Park will be the construction of a landscaped floodwall for storm mitigation.
The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) selected Stantec for the Battery Coastal Resilience Project through an RFP process because Stantec’s proposal “excelled in many different ways,” Joanna Gargiula, assistant vice-president, Capital Program, NYCEDC, says.
Andrea Zhu, project manager, Neighborhood Strategies, NYCEDC, says that the economic development corporation is currently doing emergency repairs to prevent “the wharf from falling into the water. We saw (an opportunity) to kill two birds with one stone to rebuild the wharf into a more resilient structure and to also provide protection for the park” from high tides.
She says the project is part of a $500 million resilience program that will see “a string of coastal resilience projects” in Lower Manhattan, including several along the East River to protect the Financial District, Seaport District and other areas.
Construction on all the projects will start next year, Gargiula says.
The projects were borne of out of study on the risks to parts of Lower Manhattan from flooding, groundwater table rise and coastal storm events such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012. By 2100 high tides will be inundating Battery Park daily, Zhu says
Sprich says since Hurricane Sandy coastal resiliency design is increasingly playing a major role in Stantec’s world in New York City.
The engineering company is involved in several resiliency projects, including the Raise Shorelines Citywide project to reconstruct shorelines against rising sea levels. The firm’s design work on Box Street Park is part of a plan to convert a Metropolitan Transportation Authority Facility to a waterfront park to boost coastal resiliency and provide neighborhood park space.