State Throws Support Behind $700 Million South Shore Project

Superstorm Sandy and Long Island
Fire Island
The breach on Fire Island at Old Inlet opened by Superstorm Sandy is blamed by some for Long Island flooding and credited by others with improving Great South Bay water quality (FINS).

A large-scale $700 million project—first authorized a half-century ago—to upgrade storm protections along a vulnerable 83-mile stretch of Long Island coastal areas now has the full support of New York State, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday.

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers project will install upgraded storm protections from Fire Island to Montauk Point and includes expedited repairs to restore dunes and beaches battered by Superstorm Sandy seven months ago.

“We are taking steps to build it back stronger and better prepared to withstand future storms,” Cuomo said of badly damaged South Shore beaches.

“This project will protect local communities and residents against future storms, including shoring up defenses in coastal areas,” he said, noting the area’s importance to local tourism.

It’s unclear when construction will start, but the project promises to enhance dunes along the coast, install surge dampening natural infrastructure in and along the bays, and elevate some 4,000 flood-prone structures, officials said.

The governor’s statement also noted that the project will take into account sea level rise and the “more intense storms projected under on-going climate change.”

The state’s support now allows the projecting to officially move forward.

Sen. Chuck Schumer said the plan was “long a dream of coastal communities on the South Shore,” adding that homeowners can “feel a little more secure knowing that vital protections, in the forms of dunes, berms, beaches and more will now be constructed.”

The project is more than 50 years in the making. It was first authorized by the Rivers and Harbors Act in 1960.