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Ahead of the 2nd Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, Schumer Highlights That Building Back Infrastructure in a Resilient, Green Ways Has Been A Top Priority of the Federal Government, Evidenced By Historic $17 Billion Investment to Date – Previous Infrastructure Investments from the Stimulus Only Reached $1.5 Billion

Schumer’s Inventory Outlines How The Historic Levels of Funding for Infrastructure Have Been Geared Towards Addressing Unpredictable Weather & Climate Change, Strengthening our Transit Systems, Fortifying New York’s Coastline & Repairing Municipal Infrastructure, Like Hospitals & Public Housing

National Infrastructure Funding Had Drifted Away from New York; Sandy Bill Restored NY As Preeminent Site For Federal Capital Infrastructure Investment

Ahead of the second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today released the first “Sandy Infrastructure Inventory” of the historic $17 billion investment of federal Sandy aid funding to date, that has gone towards resilient green infrastructure, transportation, coastal protection and municipal infrastructure. That number is likely to rise close to $25 billion as additional funding is allocated and FEMA negotiations reach completion. Schumer highlighted that Superstorm Sandy aid marks the largest injection of federal dollars into New York State infrastructure since the New Deal; as a point of comparison cited that New York only received $1.5 billion dollars in such aid from the Stimulus. Schumer said until Sandy, national infrastructure funding had shifted away from New York in recent years, until he fought and secured a $60 billion dollar Sandy relief bill, which allowed for New York to recover and rebuild its infrastructure in flexible and novel ways, with a focus on making infrastructure stronger in the face of future storms. While recovery from Superstorm Sandy has had some significant flaws, this injection of federal dollars into New York’s infrastructure is a bright spot.

“Superstorm Sandy was a tragedy that wreaked havoc on the metropolitan area, but if there is a silver lining: a historic $17 billion dollar federal investment has been spent to make New York’s infrastructure more resilient, greener and stronger, particularly in our transportation systems, hospitals, public housing and coastlines,” said Senator Schumer. “Much of today’s infrastructure dates back to the time of the New Deal, when a steady stream of unprecedented federal funding was directed towards roads, bridges, tunnels and more. Since then, national infrastructure funding has drifted away from New York. The Sandy Relief Bill finally restored New York as a preeminent site for federal capital infrastructure investment and I’m pleased that many much-needed infrastructure projects are now being funded.”

Schumer was joined by Peter Madonia, COO of the Rockefeller Foundation; Rob Freudenberg, Director of the Regional Plan Association (RPA) and Andrew Hollweck, Vice President of New York Building Congress.

"The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to stand with Senator Schumer today to commend his leadership and the federal government on a $17 billion commitment to resilient infrastructure building right here in New York", said Peter MadoniaCOO, The Rockefeller Foundation.  "The Foundation has been dedicated to building resilience around the world for the last decade, and we have seen time and again that the organizations, communities, businesses and people who plan and prepare for any crisis, will rebound faster.  With this announcement today, New York City is living what we call the resilience dividend - where we take stock, and invest now to be safe and save dollars later." 

On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New York and its deadly storm surge killed forty-three people and injured many others. The flood waters overtook roads, homes, subway stations, tunnels, electrical units and more, paralyzing the city’s transportation systems, causing widespread power outages, blocking roads and emergency routes, destroying beaches, boardwalks and businesses, and wiping out entire neighborhoods. This devastation meant two things: that New York must rebuild, but do so in a stronger and more resilient way so that New York City, Long Island and elsewhere are not as vulnerable to future storms. Climate change suggests that storms will only increase in intensity, so Schumer, and his colleagues in New York City and New York State focused on protecting this densely populated urban center.

Schumer said today that the Superstorm Sandy relief bill and its historic investment in infrastructure will mean significant protections for New York City and Long Island that did not exist before Sandy. For example, Schumer said the unprecedented level of spending to raise numerous electrical substations on Long Island will prevent water inundation and whole neighborhoods from losing power and going dark during a storm event. He also highlighted that efforts to fortify and flood-proof NYC and Long Island’s transportation system, its tunnels and its substations will make the Subway and LIRR less likely to flood, or will shorten the length of time they are impacted, in the event of future storms. By building dunes, sea walls and other coastal protections, communities like Long Beach, the Rockaways and Staten Island will have an extra layer of protection that stands between storm surges and the front doors of homes and businesses. 

During the New Deal,  New York City, led by Mayor LaGuardia and Robert Moses, with help from Harold Ickes, was extremely adept at securing a vast and steady stream of unprecedented federal funding infrastructure to build roads, bridges, tunnels, municipal buildings, housing and parks.  In fact, New York was able to get projects moving much more quickly than the rest of the country and was the recipient of almost half of all New Deal infrastructure funding during the early years of the New Deal. However, in the post-war era, the federal government’s focus on infrastructure investment shifted as the Interstate Highway Act and GI Bill directed infrastructure funding disproportionally away from New York City and outwards to rural areas and the burgeoning suburbs. This trend continued through several administrations, and was exacerbated by the retrenchment and retreat from infrastructure spending in urban areas in the Reagan and Bush eras, as tax cuts and spending cuts diminished and deferred our ability to maintain and modernize our infrastructure. As was often documented and decried by Senator Moynihan, during these many decades New York City suffered under a deficit of payments, whereby it sent billions more to the federal treasury in taxes than it received back in aid.  Begotten as it was by tragedy and necessity, the Sandy Bill nonetheless represents a huge back payment to New York,  and should ultimately allow us to upgrade and create infrastructure in a modern, resilient way.


The Sandy bill allowed for flexibility and novel ways to recover and rebuild stronger and in a more resilient way.  Nowhere was this seen better than in the ability of federal agencies to fund $2.52 billion in resilient, green infrastructure projects in response to unpredictable weather, climate change and sea level rise.  USDA and DOI held competitions to fund environmental restoration projects that also mitigate against flooding, home buyouts in flood planes to “return to nature”, and expansion of bluebelts (natural drainage systems). 

However, agencies such as HUD and FEMA also took a “green” approach to rebuilding, with a focus on resiliency.  HUD created the innovative Rebuild by Design competition and ultimately funded four projects in New York for $540M that will provide coastal projection integrated with ecological restoration, creation of new green space and improving water quality.  FEMA and HUD, working with EPA, also took this approach to rebuilding the Bay Park Water Treatment Plant.  FEMA committed almost $800M to rebuilding Bay Park in a more resilient way, but HUD and EPA funds will be used to pay for nitrogen removal and an ocean outfall pipe that didn’t exist before Sandy.  These upgrades will improve water quality in Nassau’s back bays and, over time, the return of natural buffers.

Some highlights of green infrastructure projects include:

·         $69M in FEMA HMGP for natural barriers at Howard Beach’s Spring Creek

·         $150M in CDBG for nitrogen removal at Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant

·         $250M in CDBG for expansion of Suffolk County Sewer system

·         $125M in CDBG for Mill River Watershed protection in Nassau County

·         $60M in CDBG for South Shore of Staten Island Living Shoreline

·         $40.5M in USDA EWP for Bluebelt expansion in Midland Beach on Staten Island

In addition to green infrastructure Schumer highlighted three additional categories, of projects that the Sandy Bill has or will fund – transportation, coastal protection and municipal/hospital infrastructure. To date $17B in projects have been funded across all four categories.


A total of $8.46B has been committed to transportation projects from the Sandy Bill.  The major source of these funds is US Department of Transportation’s $12.42B appropriation, the second largest account in the Sandy Bill.  To date $7.1B FTA funds have been allocated to projects in NY.  Initial allocations of funding were formula allocations focused on preliminary repair work for MTA, NYC DOT and Port Authority.  The most recent allocation of DOT funding was competitive and focused on resiliency. New York did very well in this allocation securing $1.9B of the $3.6B program total.  Projects funded include:

·         $886M for ongoing repair and resiliency upgrades for the Montague, Greenpoint and Steinway MTA tunnels

·         $190 million for new Staten Island ferries and ferry terminal resiliency

·         $40 million for resiliency upgrades at Moynihan Station

·         $617 million to protect MTA train storage and repair yards

·         $300 million to harden MTA street-level openings such as subway entrances in flood-prone areas

·         $100 million to protect energy stations for the MTA transit system

·         $80 million to protect against flooding in the city's tunnels


Over $5B was appropriated to Army Corps projects in the Sandy Bill, with over $2.1B for New York Army Corps projects.  One of the main goals of the Sandy relief package was to allow the Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild and fortify the New York coastline.  To date the Corps has successfully repaired many existing storm protection and navigation projects in New York for a total of approximately $250 million.  This includes repairing and restoring beach profiles from Staten Island to Montauk by placing over 7 million cubic yards of sand.  This includes:

·         Gilgo Beach: 1.5M CY sand fill ($21.3M)

·         Rockaway Beach: 3.5M CY sand fill ($36.5M)

·         Fire Island West of Shinnecock Inlet: 450k CY sand fill ($6.9M)

·         Fire Island Westhampton: 1M CY sand fill ($15.2M)

·         Coney Island: 600k CY sand fill ($7.3M)

The Corps is also currently finalizing studies to construct permanent coastal protection projects along New York’s coastal communities.  The Corps is expected to spend close to $2B on dune, levee and seawall projects at Fire Island, Long Beach, Rockaway, Coney Island Montauk Point, Staten Island, Bayville, Asharoken and Hashamomuck Cove over the next couple years.  To date the Corps awarded a $25M contract to begin work on groins and jetties at Coney Island and $48M contract, the first of three, for an emergency dune on Fire Island.


The Sandy Bill will also provide a huge infusion of funding to historically underfunded municipal infrastructure such a hospitals, NYCHA and parks.  To date municipal and hospital infrastructure has received $3.94B in funding.  Projects include:

·         $1.42B from FEMA for LIPA to repair substations and electric distribution systems, meter replacement and infrastructure mitigation

·         $1.28B from FEMA for NYU Medical Center to restore damaged buildings and to protect the medical center from future flooding through the installation of interior flood doors and barriers, reinforced walls, seals and pumps. 

·         $108M from FEMA for NYCHA’s Coney Island Houses for repairs and mitigation.