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Source : Wikipedia
October 9, 2023
Author : Alex Bustillos
The City of Norfolk is the second-most impacted by coastal storms. Thus, the latest project is being undertaken to protect the City and its residents from the ravages of natural disasters.
The City of Norfolk, Virginia, has chosen contractors for its $2.6 billion Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) Program. The Joint Venture comprises the California-based infrastructure planning and design firm Moffatt & Nichol with headquarters in Long Beach, Mobile, Alabama-based engineering and construction consultancy Volkert Inc., and Dallas-based AECOM.
The Joint Army Corps of Engineers and city program aims to reduce damage from nor'easters, hurricanes, and other significant storms, strengthen Norfolk's infrastructure resilience to climate change, and protect from coastal flooding. According to NPR, it is one of the largest infrastructure projects in the history of the City. It is only one of the numerous projects of this nature that the USACE is preparing along the US coast, from New York to Texas.
Norfolk has one of the greatest rates of relative sea level rise in Atlantic coastal communities and is second only to New Orleans in terms of vulnerability from coastal storms. According to recent research in 2023 by the William & Mary's Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Norfolk has been the City most impacted by sea level rise on the East Coast for 5 years in a row, with changes brought on by rising waters and sinking land.
The frequency of floods in the City is growing due to rising sea levels, the slow settling or sinking of the Earth's surface, oceanographic changes, and an increase in the frequency of coastal storms. Norfolk frequently floods, which is made worse by an outdated and ineffective stormwater management system and a densely populated urban area. Flooding of roads (including tunnels, underpasses, and interstate ramps) limits or occasionally completely prevents access to vital infrastructure, emergency services, and evaluation routes during coastal storms.
Roughly 8 miles of flood walls with levees, 11 tide gates, search barriers, and 10 pump stations are just a few of the new resilience components installed. The project will also include environmentally friendly solutions, including oyster reefs, living shorelines, and wetlands mitigation.
Norfolk Resilience Partners will provide program and project management, engineering and design, public engagement, utility coordination, real estate services, assessments and compliance for environmental and cultural resources, and more under the terms of the single-award contract. The managing partner of the JV will be AECOM.
This project will be implemented in five phases: four phases corresponding to each of the four watersheds and a fifth phase to provide non-structural solutions throughout the City, like housing elevations, basement fills, and floodproofing.
According to NPR, Congress just approved $400 million for the project in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the federal government has vowed to pay the remaining 65% of the estimated total cost. Norfolk still owes the state $931 million, which it intends to share with the state.
The project will boost Norfolk's economic development potential while also enhancing the quality of life for locals, workers, and visitors.
Resilient Norfolk is much more than just a floodwall project; it is rooted in social and environmental equality, bringing together several agencies with a comprehensive strategy that benefits the entire City while prioritizing layers of defense for the most socially vulnerable areas.