Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek May Get Massive Storm Walls

Rendering of a tidal barrier in the Newtown Creek. Image New York Development Corporation

If you’ve been down in the subway system lately, you might have noticed posters from the city urging residents to figure out if they live in a hurricane evacuation zone. The appearence of the colorful PSAs was prompted by the official start of hurricane season (June 1) and the reality that hurricanes–along with snowstorms and heatwaves–are now a fact of life in New York City.

With that in mind, former Mayor Bloomberg launched a plan in 2013 to prepare the city for future storms, and a large part of it involves protecting Brooklyn and its water-adjacent neighborhoods. Now, according to a new report, the first card has been played: This week, the city released a notice seeking engineers to study the feasibility of building tidal barriers to the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek that would protect residents of nearby neighborhoods from future storms.

By building the tidal barriers, which would be navigable to ships and include levees and floodwalls, the city hopes to prevent the two Superfund sites from flooding and spreading  toxins in the adjacent areas as they did during Sandy.

“Storm surge barriers along inland waterways would play a vital role in the city’s resiliency efforts and, in coordination with the ongoing Superfund work, would reduce flood risk in these vulnerable commercial and residential neighborhoods, providing new opportunities to transform the city and make our neighborhoods safer,” director of the Office of Recovery and Resiliency Daniel Zarrilli said in a press statement.

Submissions are due by July and it’s expected that the studies will take as long as two years to complete. Until then, residents can head to nyc.gov/hurricane for any and all updates on hurricane preparation.

Follow Nikita Richardson on Twitter @nikitarbk



  1. RE the proposed Newtown Creek barrier:
With the huge residential building projects being built along bothethe Long Island City/Queens and the Greenpoint /Brooklyn waterfronts, there is growing interest for building some sort of low level link or bridge between those two communities at the mouth of Newtown Creek.
Can this proposed tidal barrier be incorporated into some sort of link or bridge? 
This, at least for pedestrians and bicycles…since there is already an automobile link via the Pulaski bridge a few blocks away.
But the Pulaski bridge is not pedestrian friendly in terms of easy and quick access between the two waterfront communities of Long Island City and Greenpoint/Williamsburg.
    Perhaps this storm effort can combine the two needs.


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