Home Events + News Floodwalls Are Coming to Hoboken: What to Know

Floodwalls Are Coming to Hoboken: What to Know

by Rosaria LoPresti
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The City of Hoboken stands out as a great place to live for many reasons, however, one persistent concern remains challenging for residents: significant flood damage caused by severe weather events. The City has engaged in several resiliency initiatives over the years to mitigate flooding and reduce severe weather damage, starting with flood barricades and sewer segregation. Now, Hoboken is in its second phase of Rebuild By Design with the introduction of concrete floodwalls. Read on to learn more about the floodwalls coming to Hoboken, New Jersey as per the next phase of Rebuild By Design.

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History of Hoboken + Rebuild by Design Overview

Hoboken, New Jersey was historically once an island. Before the area underwent extensive development and urbanization, Hoboken was a piece of land surrounded by the Hudson River to the east and the New Jersey Meadowlands to the west. The original geography of the region changed over time due to land reclamation and construction, connecting Hoboken to the mainland. Due to Hoboken’s historical geographic makeup, the area is susceptible to flooding during severe weather events.

Read More: What to Do if Your Home Floods in Hudson County

Superstorm Sandy, which occurred in October 2012, led to severe flooding in Hoboken. The flooding was caused by a storm surge from the Hudson River, which led to widespread damage to homes and businesses in the city. With sea levels expected to rise because of climate change, it has been a central goal to help protect Hoboken from storm surge events like Sandy that are likely to increase in intensity and volume in the years ahead which is where the Rebuild By Design project comes in.

The Rebuild By Design project, launched by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) after Superstorm Sandy, allocated $230 million to Hoboken, Weehawken, and Jersey City among other cities to combat flooding. The project involves a multi-layered strategy using infrastructure like floodwalls and landscaping; policies to curb stormwater runoff; green and gray infrastructure enhancements; and upgrades to stormwater management systems. It aims to mitigate frequent flooding caused by storm surges, high tides, and heavy rainfall, ensuring greater resilience against such natural calamities.

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The Floodwalls

Contractors have begun the second phase of work on the federally-funded Rebuild By Design project in Hoboken. The first phase of the Rebuild By Design project involved segregating the sewers due to Hoboken’s existing system combining rainwater with wastewater.

The second phase of work was kicked off with a groundbreaking ceremony on October 25th, 2023. The event marked the 11th anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. New Jersey officials gathered to break ground on a project in Hoboken’s Harborside Park, per NJ.com.

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This was the most significant milestone to date of the Rebuild by Design project. The park will undergo an expansion and redesign to provide a resistant structure of concrete flood walls spanning nearly 10,000 linear feet and 28 flood gates to mitigate storm surge flooding. As the name suggests, these floodwalls will go up during a big storm, forming a moat-like structure on the waterfront — quite literally living up to the ‘rebuild’ concept.

“The floodwalls are a system of barriers which will be integrated into the urban landscape and designed to prevent storm surge from entering Hoboken,” said Marilyn Baer, Communications Manager for the City of Hoboken. “They will be installed along the southern and northern borders of Hoboken and will take the form of an innovative park at Harborside Park, wayfinding signage, plantings, and benches, to limit overland water flow from the Hudson River during events like Superstorm Sandy.”

The park will become the first in New Jersey to be installed with elevated flood protection features aimed at storm surge protection and one of the only parks with this type of design in the entire country. Initial groundwork to facilitate the construction is currently in progress, with the anticipated commencement of the floodwall’s actual construction expected early this year.

More information regarding the full overview of the project can be found on its website as well as in this YouTube video for community members to learn what will be constructed.

Additionally, the state grant of a $251 million contract to E.E Cruz and Company, headquartered in Whitestone, New York, is the contract amount for the Rebuild by Design Hudson River project (Hoboken, Weehawken, Jersey City) that will build coastal storm surge barriers. Marilyn stated that “Additional supplemental funding has been identified in addition to the $230M federal monies through FEMA’s Building Resilience in Communities program (BRIC) and through a State appropriation of American Rescue Plan Funds.”

The Flood Barricades

In early 2023, The Hoboken Girl reported that Mayor Bhalla and the City of Hoboken installed flood barricades in low, flood-prone areas to protect the community from extreme weather and rising water levels. The barricades are equipped with sensors that monitor flood levels, a feature City officials watch to raise the barricades during periods of heightened flood levels. The flood barricades are a part of the City’s Flood Warning System in the City’s emergency management strategy to limit vehicular traffic through flooded intersections to better protect residents. 

The barricade locations include Newark Street and Garden Street, Harrison Street and Second Street, Marshall Street and First Street, Jackson Street and Third Street, Fourth Street and Monroe Street, and Willow Street and Eighth Street. This is not part of the Rebuild by Design project which aims to mitigate storm surge flooding from the Hudson River through a series of levees and berms.

Further Initiatives

The City of Hoboken has announced other resiliency initiatives including the creation of new resiliency parks, which can withhold water through green infrastructure and underground detention systems. The city is moving forward with resiliency parks at 800 Monroe and actively pursuing the expansion of Southwest Resiliency Park which will also be designed to withhold rainwater.

The construction of Northwest Resilience Park is expected to conclude by spring 2024. Once completed, it will become New Jersey’s largest resiliency park — capable of containing up to two million gallons of stormwater during periods of severe weather. Together, all four of Hoboken’s resiliency parks will have the capacity to withhold approximately 3.4 million gallons of rainwater during severe weather events.

Hoboken Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla also created the Department of Climate Action + Innovation to tackle climate change and enhance sustainability efforts. The new department aims to address the city’s vulnerability to climate change impacts, particularly flooding. Led by Chief Sustainability Officer Jennifer Gonzales, the department will focus on innovative and cost-saving measures to make Hoboken a climate-ready community, overseeing key divisions such as Sustainability and Resiliency, Capital Planning, and Engineering. The Department of Environmental Services will remain, and Diana Aviles will lead the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Public Works.

See More: Amtrak Stations to Debut in Essex County for Commuters by 2028

“By creating this department, headed by Director Gonzalez, we aim to make Hoboken the most prepared, adaptable, and climate-ready community in New Jersey, while setting an example for cities of similar size worldwide,” Mayor Bhalla said.

The full overview of the Department of Climate Action + Innovation can be found in this press release.

The full overview of the Rebuild By Design Hudson River project can be found here.

To keep up with all of the latest local happenings, follow @thehobokengirl on Instagram and TikTok.

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