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Mayor de Blasio and Local Officials Preview Final Rebuilt Sections of Rockaway Boardwalk, Set to Open Next Week

May 19, 2017

Just in time for Memorial Day Weekend, all 5.5 miles of Rockaway Boardwalk are rebuilt and ready to open for the first time since Hurricane Sandy

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and local officials toured the now completely rebuilt Rockaway Boardwalk today for a final check of the $341 million project before its opening on Memorial Day weekend. Completed under budget and on-time in three years, the new boardwalk sets a global standard for resilient shoreline design alongside the iconic Rockaway Beach.

This marks the first time since Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012 that the full boardwalk will be fully rebuilt and open to the public. It stretches 5.5 miles from Beach 9th Street to Beach 126th Street. Completion of the boardwalk coincides with the launch of permanent, year-round NYC Ferry service to the Rockaways earlier this month, better connecting residents to the rest of the city and strengthening the peninsula’s local economy.

“This is going to be the Summer of the Rockaways. The millions who come to the boardwalk by bus, bike and ferry will see the Rockaways’ resilience and vibrancy in action,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The boardwalk is proof of our commitment to building back stronger and better.”

“In New York City, summer isn’t summer without Rockaway Beach,” said Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver. “The beautiful new boardwalk is as strong and resilient as the Rockaway communities it serves – and it offers all New Yorkers more space to enjoy the sun and sand.”

“The Rockaways are stronger than ever,” said NYCEDC President James Patchett. “The new, resilient boardwalk will connect Rockaway neighborhoods – and its millions of visitors – with the beach that’s made this peninsula so iconic. After successfully launching NYC Ferry, we’re proud to deliver on another promise for the Rockaway community.”

“Hurricane Sandy highlighted our vulnerabilities in the Rockaways and across the city’s coastal communities. Today marks an important milestone in our recovery and in working towards our OneNYC goals of creating a more just, resilient and sustainable city,” said Daniel Zarrilli, Senior Director of Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer for the NYC Mayor’s Office. “These investments, now and with more to come, demonstrate the City’s commitment and progress in delivering inclusive climate action.”

"In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, New York City decided it must not just prepare for the next Sandy, but embrace the charge to build a stronger, more resilient city,” said Jainey Bavishi, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery & Resiliency. “The fully rebuilt Rockaway Boardwalk opening today represents best in class resiliency design and illustrates the progress we’re making to withstand and emerge stronger from the impacts of climate change and other 21st century threats, while at the same time creating more vibrant communities.”

“As a firm with hundreds of Queens-based employees, we are especially honored to have played such a significant role in restoring and increasing access to the Rockaways,” said Tom Webb, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Metro New York, Skanska USA. “From the newly opened ferry landing to the miles of boardwalk for all to enjoy, it’s a proud milestone for Skanska in our century-long journey of building New York.”

The project, a partnership between NYC Parks and NYCEDC, was completed in phases, ensuring the maximum amount of accessible boardwalk at all times. In the summer of 2016, the entire stretch of the boardwalk was open for the first time since Hurricane Sandy, utilizing the old boardwalk in the area between Beach 19th Street and Beach 39th Street. Over the fall and winter, that section was reconstructed and brought up to the standard of the rest of the boardwalk.

The new boardwalk is being integrated into a multi-layered system of coastal protection that will resist future weather events and account for the long-term effects of climate change. It is constructed with a steel-reinforced concrete deck, fixed to steel pipe piles that elevate it above the 100-year flood plain. Multiple layers of protection are also being integrated into the boardwalk design, including approximately six miles of planted dunes. A concrete retaining wall is being constructed underneath the boardwalk to keep the beach’s sand in place and prevent it from entering the community. Much of the new boardwalk’s appearance – including its sand-colored decking, brightly colored ramps and designated bike lane – was decided during a series of collaborative design sessions with Rockaway residents.

As New York City’s largest beach, Rockaway attracts millions of visitors each year.  Recently, the destination has become well known for its varied concessions along the boardwalk, which sell food and drinks from around the world, including Peruvian, Bolivian, Caribbean and Central Asian fare.

Due to the efficient management of the boardwalk reconstruction, the City has approximately $120 million in underrun funds. Mayor de Blasio has also committed to keep these savings in the Rockaways to continue strengthening resiliency of its neighborhoods. 

NYC Parks will also host community events, free Shape Up NYC fitness classes and nature programming in the Rockaways all summer long.

“With this monumental rebuild, we showcase the strength and resiliency of the Rockaway community,” said U.S. Representative Gregory W. Meeks. “Rockaway Beach is an iconic part of our great city, and this is a critical step to improve the peninsula’s local economy.  I thank Mayor de Blasio for his leadership and dedication, and I invite residents and visitors to come down to the new Boardwalk this summer.”

“Five years after Superstorm Sandy tore through this community, it is time that the Rockaways reclaim their beloved boardwalk,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “This new and improved boardwalk serves as a symbol of this community and their resilience in the face of great destruction. I want to thank the Mayor for prioritizing this project and ensuring it can be enjoyed by New Yorkers for years to come.”

“It is indeed a proud day as we welcome back 5.5 miles of Rockaway Boardwalk, which was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy,” said State Senator James Sanders Jr. “This is just another symbolic way of showing the strength of this community to overcome disasters and adversity. Just in time for summer, we have a beautiful boardwalk for all to enjoy as we head to the beach - for sun, sand, surf, good food and time with family. I look forward to seeing all of you here in my district, which includes most of the Rockaways, and I’m sure when you do arrive you will have a great time.”

"Five years after Superstorm Sandy, it's wonderful to have the anchor of our beachfront community whole again,” said Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer-Amato. “We greatly appreciate the investment on the part of the Mayor and the work of the agencies that got us here, and we also need to acknowledge the patience, strength and participation of this community in the recovery process.  We hope this is the first step in a campaign to improve the resiliency of the Peninsula."

"The Mayor's commitment to the Rockaways has been unwavering and I look forward to the completion of our boardwalk better than before!," said Assembly Member Michele Titus.

"The devastation left behind by Hurricane Sandy has affected the lives of all too many New Yorkers,” said Council Member Mark Levine, Chair of the Parks Committee. “As we mark the completion of the Rockaway Boardwalk construction today, we are reminded of our City's resilience in the face of adversity. I applaud the administration for their work in completing this project, and I look forward to working with them and my colleagues in the future on solutions to the issue of beach erosion." 

“With the return of the ferry, the full completion of the Rockaway Boardwalk could not come at a better time,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “Now, both residents and beach-goers can take full advantage of the entire peninsula, simply by walking or running along the beach. I’d like to thank Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Silver for working to not only bring back Rockaway Beach, but for also making it better than ever before.”

Progress on citywide coastal resiliency projects

Hurricane Sandy struck New York City in October 2012, taking the lives of New Yorkers and causing $19 billion in damages and lost economic activity. It also laid bare pre-existing challenges in the city's waterfront communities and highlighted our vulnerabilities to coastal storms and rising seas. The city's climate vulnerabilities, which also include increases in heat and precipitation, are also exacerbated by other challenges, including an increasing population, aging infrastructure and rising inequality.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it was imperative that New York City emerge a stronger and more resilient city – one that did not just prepare for the next storm, but one that invested against a wider range of threats. Through our comprehensive OneNYC climate resiliency program, the City has made considerable progress to recover from the storm and make the city ready for the future impacts of climate change.

The completion of the Rockaway Boardwalk complements many other resiliency measures already in place and underway, such as 4.2 million cubic yards of new sand placed on city beaches in Coney Island and the Rockaway Peninsula, 9.8 miles of dunes constructed across Staten Island and the rockaway peninsula, and 10,500 linear feet of upgraded bulkheads across the city. This is also supplemented by significant resiliency investments being made across the city, including $3 billion for NYCHA public housing, $1.7 billion for public hospitals, and other investments to prepare for the impacts of climate change and other 21st century threats.

To see the full list of the City's progress on its OneNYC $20 billion multi-layered resiliency program, please visit our citywide resiliency map here.

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