Posts tagged with "Army Corps of Engineers":

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New York’s Javits Center completes transformation into 1,200 bed emergency hospital

A 1,200-bed field hospital, established in response to the dire need for additional hospital beds as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) overwhelms New York City’s existing medical infrastructure, opened today at the Jacob K. Javits Center. The Army Corps of Engineers, along with civilian staff and members of the New York National Guard, executed the dramatic transformation of the Javits Center from a normally bustling venue for trade shows and conventions to a fully equipped overflow medical facility in just one week. If needed, the makeshift hospital at the Javits Center can be expanded to accommodate 2,910 beds. This would make it one of the largest hospitals in America, regardless of ephemerality, according to ABC News. By comparison, New York-Presbyterian, the city’s largest hospital, has a 2,600-bed capacity. First floated as a potential field hospital earlier this month, the Javits Center, a vast green-roofed, glass-encased complex on Manhattan's far West Side designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, is the first of several Army Corps-identified facilities across the five boroughs to be adapted into a temporary medical hub. Late last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the Army Corps, pending approval from the White House, will also convert four other facilities with considerable square footage into field hospitals: The Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, the New York Expo Center in Bronx, CUNY Staten Island, and the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook. These four facilities will have the capacity for a combined 4,000 additional hospital beds as even more sites, including the Brooklyn Center Nursing Home and a Marriott hotel in downtown Brooklyn, are considered by state health officials as having overflow-need potential according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Cuomo has also stressed the need for temporary hospitals in New York City-adjacent counties including Westchester, Suffolk, Nassau, and Rockland. As of this writing, 59,742 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in New York, the most of any state. Nearly 800 people have perished from the virus in New York City alone. Over the weekend, a non-Army Corps-initiated field hospital also began to take shape in Central Park’s East Meadow. Designed specifically as a respiratory care unit, the 68-bed Central Park tent hospital is being constructed by volunteers enlisted by the faith-based humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse in partnership with Mount Sinai Health System. Unlike the field hospital at the Javits Center, which will only provide care to those suffering from a range of health issues that aren’t coronavirus in order to take the mounting burden off of established hospitals grappling with New Yorkers stricken with the highly contagious viral disease, the Central Park facility is dedicated to treating “patients seriously ill with COVID-19,” per a statement released by Mount Sinai Hospital to BuzzFeed News. Back at the Javits Center, the transformation of the 1.8-million-square foot building’s cavernous exhibition halls into a Federal Emergency Management Agency-operated medical facility has been met with a positive response. And for those skeptical that the United States was capable of speedy, China-style turnaround in creating makeshift hospitals, the swift transformation of the Javits Center has proven that the Army Corps, when called upon, can get things done and get them done in an expeditious manner. (New York’s urgent need for ventilators and other supplies, however, is a whole other story.) All things considered, the temporary hospital at the Javits Center appears clean and comfortable. Individual beds contained within semi-enclosed “rooms” are shielded by three temporary walls and a curtained entrance made from seemingly the same materials formerly used to host booths in the space, while floor lamps, folding chairs, medical supplies, and side tables topped with (faux) potted plants complement the spaces. While the transformation doesn't appear to allow for individual treatment areas to include private plumbed fixtures, some online commentators have pointed out that a deficit of toilets at the Javits Center shouldn’t be a problem. “The Javits Center is an amazing facility,” ABC News reported Gen. Todd Semonite, head of the Army Corps of Engineers, as telling reporters at a press conference held last week. “Every 10 feet there's a great big steel door in the floor, you open it up in there is all the electrical; there's cold water, there's hot water and there's a place for sewers, so you can actually do things like sinks, right in the middle of a convention center to be able to make that happen.” Outside of New York City, the Los Angeles Convention Center, which was due to host the AIA Conference on Architecture 2020 in May, is in the process of being converted by the National Guard into a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-run field hospital as demand for hospital beds in the greater L.A. area begin to surge. Hard-hit Santa Clara County, in the San Francisco Bay area, is also turning a large convention center into a temporary treatment center for COVID-19 patients presenting on-life threatening symptoms. Similar efforts are also planned or already underway at convention centers in Detroit, New Orleans, Baltimore, Dallas, Chicago, Seattle, and elsewhere. To help with this unprecedented effort, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has launched a special task force to inform and offer guidance to public officials, architects, and healthcare facility operators as they convert existing buildings into temporary medical hubs at a pace never experienced before. The task force, according to a press statement, will develop a COVID-19 Rapid Response Safety Space Assessment for AIA members that includes “considerations for the suitability of buildings, spaces, and other sites for patient care. The assessment will be developed by architects with a wide range of expertise, including healthcare facility design, urban design, public health and disaster assistance.” “On a daily basis, I am hearing from our architects who feel a deep sense of moral duty to support our healthcare providers on the frontlines of this pandemic,” said AIA 2020 president Jane Frederick, FAIA. “As our communities assess buildings to address growing surge capacity, we hope this task force will be a resource to ensure buildings are appropriately and safely adapted for our doctors and nurses.”
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NYC flood barrier project suspended by Trump administration

On January 18, President Donald Trump took to Twitter and made clear his feelings about a proposed $119 billion—later downgraded to $62 billion—proposed seawall with retractable gates that would stretch six miles across Lower New York Bay The system would shield low-lying areas of New York City and New Jersey from the same type of catastrophic flooding unleashed by the storm surge of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. That storm, which wreaked havoc up and down the Mid-Atlantic coastline, resulted in roughly $19 billion in damages in New York City alone. Trump called the idea, one of five flood-blocking proposals being studied by the Army Corps of Engineers, “costly, foolish and environmentally unfriendly.” He went on to claim that the barrier “probably wouldn’t work anyway,” before going on to warn New Yorkers to “get your mops and buckets ready.” In his tweet, an obvious reaction to a New York Times story on the sea wall published the day before, he also misstated the proposed cost of the deluge-preventing defense system to be $200 billion. Just weeks later, a crucial study considering that plan, as well as the four less intensive and expensive proposals, have been abruptly and “indefinitely postponed” by the Corps. As the New York Times reports, the announcement took some of the Corps’ own officials by surprise, while “local politicians and advocates said the decision was stunning at a time when climate change is threatening New York’s future with intensifying storms.” The project was first initiated by the Corps in 2017. Per Gothamist, it was anticipated that they would release a feasibility report as soon as this summer detailing the proposals, costs and benefits, and other information. And, even if a specific long-term plan were to be hypothetically approved and green-lit for federal funding, it could take upwards of two decades to complete such a project. As the Times noted, Trump cannot personally nix ongoing projects within the Corps. Work plans for the agency are jointly decided by Corps officials, the Department of Defense, and the White House Office of Management and Budget, while funding for their projects is allocated by Congress. But considering the previous Tweet, the President’s apparent antagonism toward infrastructure projects that would benefit his hometown, and his apathy toward climate resiliency projects that require federal funding, it’s difficult not to speculate that the move was orchestrated by Trump himself. “We can only speculate, but I think the tweet gives a clue as to the reason,” Robert Freudenberg, vice president for energy and environment with the Regional Plan Association, explained to the Times. “This is a president who gets good headlines for his base out of acting against ‘blue’ states, and there’s a disturbing pattern of stalling or trying to end projects that are important to the Northeast.” “This doesn’t happen,” added Freudenberg. “This is an in-progress study.” Even the Corps official in charge of the project, which only focused on flooding from Sandy-like storm surge but not sea-level rise or stormwater runoff (to some criticism), expressed how abnormal it was for an ongoing project to be shelved and have its funding suddenly halted. “When you’re working on something, you never like to be caught in a position where you’re shut down in the middle before you even finish your mission,” said Clifford S. Jones III of the agency’s New York office. Speaking to the Times, a senior administration official dismissed any notions of a personal vendetta on Trump’s part, and claimed that the Corps’ flood defense study was, in their words, “too expensive and unfocused.” The official went on to claim that the White House “remains committed to helping communities address their flood risks.” Calling the halting of the project “reckless,” New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who has been critical of the project’s limited scope, told the Times that “there is no other study underway at this scale that could give federal dollars to protect our people, our businesses and our ecosystems.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York also expressed his dismay with the decision in a press statement: “The administration is being penny-wise and pound-foolish by not funding the studies that allow New Yorkers to prepare for the next superstorm. There was no reason given for these cuts—because there is no answer.”
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Army Corps of Engineers will erect miles of seawalls along Staten Island

The United States Army Corps of Engineers is slated to begin construction on a $616 million seawall in the New York City borough of Staten Island, one of the areas hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy in 2012. The storm, which wreaked havoc on much of the mid-Atlantic coast between New Jersey and New York, exposed and exacerbated Staten Island’s vulnerability to storm surges and flash flooding. In light of predictions by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other climate-monitoring agencies that the frequency of Atlantic hurricanes will increase as global warming progresses through the 21st century, local and federal officials hope that the seawall will prevent higher levels of physical damage in the future.

When Sandy struck the New York metropolitan region in October 2012, floodwater depth in certain parts of Staten Island hit 12.5 feet above sea level. Within the area protected by the proposed seawall, depths exceeded previous records by four feet and damaged 80 percent of all structures, including critical infrastructure like schools. The storm killed 43 people in the city, including 24 in Staten Island alone.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo, the seawall system will include several components, known collectively as the Staten Island Multi-Use Elevated Promenade. About 4.5 miles of buried seawall, which will be topped by a walkable promenade, will protect the area against up to 21.4 feet of seawater rise. In addition to the 0.6-mile gate in the levee, there will also be 0.35 miles of floodwalls, 300 acres of natural water storage to manage surge, and over 226 acres of tidal wetlands and ponding areas. The latter two components will have the capacity to absorb an immense amount of floodwater, forming a robust natural barrier against major storms. One priority of the project is to protect vital infrastructure on the island, including senior centers, schools, hospitals, a wastewater plant, and police and fire stations.

While Sandy served as a catalyst to mobilize resources and agencies to officially begin the project, research that led to the ultimate seawall system proposal actually began after a pair of severe storms in 1992 and 1993. Hurricanes, Nor-easters, and superstorms present a major threat to the borough, but the low-lying parts of Staten Island also face flooding damage in the face of regular rainfall. In addition to protecting the coastline from such stress, state officials have promised that the seawall system will enhance waterfront access for members of the public. The boardwalk will be open to cyclists, pedestrians, and other hobbyists, allowing users to experience both the shoreline and the coastal wetlands. Governor Cuomo’s office also suggested that the seawall might one day serve as a tourist attraction, bringing in visitors from across the region and country.

Signing on to a Project Partnership Agreement (PPA), New York State and the Army Corps have committed to reducing the costs of flood damage in the area by about $30 million per year. The PPA opens the project up to $400 million in federal contributions, which will be added to the existing budget of $216 million—$65 million from the city and $151 million from the state. Construction is set to begin in 2020 and will hopefully be completed before the next major weather event.

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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tests 3-D-printed concrete barracks

A research team within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently 3-D printed full-scale concrete walls in an effort to create quick-to-assemble barracks for field housing, according to Engineering News Record. The project, named Automated Construction of Expeditionary Structures (ACES), aims to engineer structurally efficient and safe concrete barracks with precast roofs and 3-D-printed walls. In their latest tests, they were able to produce 9.5-foot-tall reinforced concrete walls for 32-foot by 16-foot barracks, made from about 25 cubic yards of concrete. The next phase of the testing will tackle printing concrete roof beams. Backed by the U.S. Marine Corps, Caterpillar Inc., NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Kennedy Space Center, ACES is pushing the boundaries of military on-site construction using as little money and manpower as possible. The project has undergone two years of testing with structural engineering experts from the Chicago office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, who had previous experience working in 3-D printing through a project with the U.S. Department of Energy. After several iterations, the group concluded that construction time on such structures could shrink to a single day as opposed to five days, the average amount of time it takes to build wood-framed barracks.  Printing concrete barracks would also eliminate the need to ship construction materials for conventional barracks by instead using local concrete from wherever the build-out would occur. For this prototype, ACES spent $6,000 and in addition, found out that it would take just three trained crew members per shift for three continuous printing sessions to build the barracks. Though exhausting, the process is even less labor intensive than basic barrack construction.  While 3-D-printed building technology is looking more viable every day, it's not perfect yet. According to ENR, SOM said that pre-testing the performance of the concrete is imperative and that the printing process must not be interrupted to ensure overall structural efficiency. Cracks from shrinkage can occur on long, straight walls as well, so ACES employed a chevron design that undulates, changing direction every two feet. ACES will do further testing over the next month to refine the technology and the construction process. They expect to be done with the project's precast concrete roof in September and will then issue a report with design guidelines. During 2019, the group hopes to build four or five pilot machines for Marine Corps units to use in the field for additional evaluation. 
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Army Corps of Engineers proposes swinging sea gates for New York Harbor

The shores of New York and New Jersey are, as Hurricane Sandy demonstrated in 2012, particularly vulnerable to flooding, sea level rise, and extreme weather events. Coastal construction has become more resilient (though some question to what end) and flood prevention ideas both big and small have been floated to protect the area’s shores. Now, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed several different approaches to preventing flood surges using gates and berms in and around New York Harbor, and environmentalists are sounding the alarm. The proposals are part of the New York-New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study, a 2,150-mile survey of the region’s most vulnerable areas. The Corps has put together five schemes—four that use storm barriers, and one “as is” projection—and is soliciting feedback from New York and New Jersey residents with a series of information sessions this week. In designing floodwalls for New York Harbor or the Hudson and East Rivers, the Corps will need to balance ecological concerns with property protection; nonprofit clean water advocacy group Riverkeeper has called the Corps “hard infrastructure” solutions, those that use concrete barriers, detrimental to the health of the harbor and its waterways. The Hudson River is technically a tidal estuary and not a full-fledged river. Salt water from New York Harbor, and in turn the Atlantic Ocean, flows back up through the Hudson and mixes with fresh water from tributaries upstate to create a nutrient-rich environment. If the Corps's plan to install a five-mile-long gate across the harbor’s mouth between Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and Breezy Point in the Rockaways came to pass, Riverkeeper argues that the barrier would slowly cut off nutrients from the harbor and prevent contaminants from washing out into the ocean. “From Day One, these offshore barriers would start to restrict the tidal flow, contaminant and sediment transport, and migration of fish. They would impede the tidal ‘respiration’ of the river. We fear that a slow death would be inflicted on the river and that in time, the barriers would slowly, but surely, strangle the life out of the river as we know it.” The Corps alternative plans include: building berms, dunes, and seawalls across the lower-lying sections of the New York-New Jersey waterfront, with small floodgates across a few waterways; a barrier across the Staten Island-Brooklyn gap spanned by the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge and gates along Jamaica Bay; and targeted berms and seawalls across targeted low-lying coastal areas without any gates. Creating a centralized approach to flood prevention could be more effective than the piece-by-piece method currently being enacted but comes with its own set of risks. If a massive gate were installed to prevent flooding, it would need to be closed more and more frequently as sea levels rise and would increasingly cut off New York and New Jersey’s waterways from the ocean. Planning for a storm that currently has a probability of occurring once every hundred years may be futile as storms of such intensity become increasingly common. Seawalls have been linked to increased erosion, and if water builds up behind the wall, it can be hard to fully drain the affected area. The Corps is looking to identify a scheme to move forward with by the middle of this summer. However, with a possible price tag of $20 billion and several years of construction likely, whether or not the Corps can follow through is unclear. Interested New York and New Jersey residents can learn more at the following information sessions: Monday, July 9th, 3-5 PM and 6-8 PM at the Borough of Manhattan Community College in Tribeca, Richard Harris Terrace (main floor) 199 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007 Tuesday, July 10th, 3-5 PM and 6-8 PM at Rutgers University-Newark Campus, PR Campus Center, 2nd Floor, Essex Room 350 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Newark, NJ 07102 Wednesday, July 11th, 6-8 PM at the Hudson Valley Community Center in Poughkeepsie, Auditorium Room 110 South Grand Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
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New York City Rep Velázquez Announces Bill to Improve & Protect Waterfront

Taking the podium at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York City Representative Nydia M. Velázquez introduced new legislation, called the "Waterfront of Tomorrow Act," to protect and fortify New York City's 538-miles of coastline. The bill would instruct the Army Corps of Engineers to come up with an in-depth plan to stimulate economic growth and job creation, update the ports, and implement flood protection measures. Sandwiched between Red Hook Container Terminal and One Brooklyn Bridge Park, a large residential development, the pier was an appropriate place for the Congresswoman to announce legislation that addresses the city's needs to bolster its shipping industry while also taking steps to mitigate flooding and ensure the resiliency and sustainability of its residential neighborhoods, parkland, and businesses. "I think the part [of the bill] that was the most exciting was about protecting New York City from future floods, and most importantly talked about hard and soft solutions. Different parts of NYC will need different solutions," said Rick Bell, Executive Director for AIA New York Chapter Center for Architecture. "This whole announcement talked about multifaceted approach." The bill is divided into four sections that propose flood protection and resiliency measures, a national freight policy, and "Green Port" designations and a grant program to promote the environmental sustainability of the shipping ports. The Army Corps of Engineers, in collaboration with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, will be charged with coming up with a strategy to protect the waterfront from severe weather patterns and rising tides, including tide gates, oyster reef restoration, and wetland restoration. "Whether it is commerce, recreation, transportation, or our local environment, New Yorkers' lives are inextricably linked to the water that surrounds us," Velázquez said at the announcement. "Investing in our ports, coasts and waterfronts can improve our City and local communities." The timing of this bill is up in the air, but it will likely enter the conversation in September when Congress returns from the August District Work Period to discuss new legislation aimed at enhancing the nation's waterways.