The New York-New Jersey Harbor – America’s Harbor – is an extraordinary environmental, economic and cultural gem. Our urban coastline draws more than 50 million visitors from around the world and is home to 22 million people, the busiest port on the East Coast, and historic National Parks and landmarks. It also anchors the financial capital of the world and is ringed by more than half a million acres of diverse shoreline and critical habitat.
However, these coastal resources are threatened by increasingly frequent and severe storms. Superstorm Sandy – which killed more than 100 people and injured thousands more, destroyed habitat and infrastructure, and caused at least $50 billion in damage – made painfully clear that flooding and storm surge pose a serious threat to our natural shoreline, economy and way of life. The storm charged over our hardened shoreline, decimating low-lying neighborhoods, destroying transit systems and shuttering Wall Street for days.
The time has come to transform America’s Harbor into a safer, modern, more resilient 21st Century waterfront with restored natural shoreline, floodable open space, equitable public access, well-protected coastal communities and the infrastructure needed to support a vibrant, sustainable maritime industry.
These improvements will better protect New York City and New Jersey from future storm damage while also benefitting wildlife, recreation, local businesses and industries like fishing, tourism and cruise lines. We know from other regions of the country that the local economy can benefit by as much as $6 for each $1 invested.
For the NY-NJ Harbor region to truly recover and thrive, we need to continue the incredible bi-partisan, bi-state cooperation we saw from members of our New York and New Jersey Congressional delegation after Superstorm Sandy. Joining with local leaders, community groups and victims, our delegation worked diligently to secure the critical resources needed to rebuild damaged structures, repair infrastructure and allow our region recover.
But much more needs to be done to ensure America’s Harbor is strong, safe and sustainable in the future. We must encourage Congress to continue working together across state and party lines to build on their initial commitment to our region and provide the necessary resources to fully revitalize and properly protect our diverse harbor region.