Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced major storm mitigation and resiliency projects for LaGuardia Airport that will protect vital infrastructure against future flooding by enhancing drainage capacity, installing flood control measures, and improving electrical power resilience. The total project costs will be $37.5 million, $28.1 million of which is expected to be covered by federal funds through an award for disaster recovery and mitigation for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Hurricane Sandy forced us to reevaluate how we prepare for and respond to major natural disasters in New York, said Governor Cuomo. The question is not if another storm will hit, but when, and the state is doing everything it can to ensure that New Yorks infrastructure is strong and durable when the time comes. Projects like these will significantly improve flood protection and electrical resiliency at LaGuardia and throughout the state. New York state government is working every day to build back better than before."
Under Governor Cuomos leadership, the Port Authority is making vital changes to key infrastructure at LaGuardia Airport to ensure this critical aviation gateway is open and operating as soon as possible in the event of another major storm, said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. This is yet another example of the Governors commitment to see that New York State is building back smarter and stronger.
In any emergency, we have three major responsibilities to our customers, and that is to protect life, preserve property and get back to business as soon as practical, said Interim Aviation Director Thomas Bosco. These projects are critical to our airports operations and I applaud Governor Cuomo for his commitment to making sure New Yorks airports are fully prepared for any future flooding events.
These projects are consistent with the recommendations highlighted in the NYS 2100 Commission Report commissioned by Governor Cuomo. The 2100 report specifically highlighted protection of critical airport infrastructure, including runways, through flood control and electrical power system resiliency measures.
The five projects include:
- Installation of flood barrier berms around the West Field Lighting Vault, a building that houses critical runway and taxiway lighting systems.
- Construction of a concrete floodwall around the West End Substation that is critical to powering the airfield systems including the pump stations.
- Construction of gravity drains to supplement the airports existing drainage network to remove floodwater from the airfield. This project will install two gravity drains that will allow stormwater to discharge into Flushing Bay, consistent with current environmental parameters.
- Replacement of existing generators with larger, more efficient emergency back-up generators, in order to supply power to airside and landside operations.
- Rehabilitation of the airports monitoring and control system for LGA power distribution grid to enable the airport to more quickly monitor and address issues with its electrical distribution system. During Sandy, elements of the airport electrical system were shut down to prevent permanent damage as rising floodwaters submerged critical electrical infrastructure. Elements of the airports electrical system needed to be restarted and operated manually once floodwaters receded. This project will help the airport better withstand extreme weather events and reduce recovery time following severe situations through automated and remote monitoring and control systems.
LaGuardia Airport is a critical aviation facility for the New York region, directly employing 10,000 people and contributing more than $13 billion in total economic activity to the region. Superstorm Sandy severely impacted LaGuardia, with more than 100 million gallons of water from Flushing Bay flooding the airfield, closing the airport to commercial flight operations for three days. An estimated 250,000 passengers were unable to take scheduled flights during the storm and its immediate aftermath.
LGA is surrounded by a berm wall system designed to keep Flushing and Bowery Bays from flooding the airport during times of tidal surge. However, during Superstorm Sandy, the unprecedented storm surge, which reached nearly 12 feet, overtopped the berm system and led to approximately 100 million gallons of flooding at the airport. LGA relies on an extensive existing storm water catch basin and drainage system, which is connected to five high capacity pump houses. Sandys flood water inundated the pump houses and their power sources with several feet of water, rendering them temporarily inoperable. Simply building the berm higher as a response is not feasible given FAA and other limitations to allow for flight operations on the airfield.