The Rockaway Boardwalk, owned and operated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, was originally built in 1893 and stretches over five miles along the beach from 126th street to 9th street in Far Rockaway, Queens. The boardwalk is a vital component of the local community and the park, along with the surrounding community is both a popular tourist destination and home to about 135,000 year-round residents.
Hurricane Sandy’s high winds, heavy rains, and storm surge damaged or destroyed 3.42 miles of the 5 mile boardwalk’s wooden decking system, along with some of the concrete supports and fire breaks. Storm tidal surge also severely damaged or destroyed boardwalk ramps, stairs, benches, and other park infrastructure.
A More Resilient Future
FEMA has provided an additional $480 million in funding, through a Section 428 Capped Grant, for repair and mitigation measures. The Section 428 Capped Grant incudes $147 million for repair/restoration and contents from Hurricane Sandy damages across the medical campus and $198.8 million in Section 406 hazard mitigation costs.
FEMA funding has supported the repair or replacement of more than one million square feet of boardwalk and replaced 84 ramps, 87 stair units, 232 light poles, and 424 park benches.
The boardwalk’s mitigation plan includes the replacement of the pre-disaster wood (Brazilian Teak and Walnut) with a more resilient material at a higher elevation, which will reduce the boardwalk’s vulnerability to future damage. FEMA grants will also fund additional fill and a concrete sand retaining wall of 5.02 continuous miles from end to end of the boardwalk. Dune stabilization efforts will also provide further resiliency.
Section 406 funding will also be used to implement the following measures to reinforce the boardwalk’s ability to better withstand future storms:
- Elevate boardwalk 3.0 feet above the 1% annual flood elevation (100 yr.)
- Replace wood decking with concrete
- Installation of a sand retention wall
- Increase resistance to uplift forces with the installation of tie down clips & strapping to the deck and pile caps
- Engineered wetlands & bio swales
- Raise shorelines
- Oyster reefs
- Restore wetlands
- New berms with pathways
- Riprap or stone revetments
The boardwalk opened to the public in the spring of 2017, though approximately 5 percent of the project’s remaining work is ongoing.