Norfolk eyeing $1.4 billion package of action to prevent flooding
A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study, investigating coastal storm risk management problems and solutions in Norfolk, reached an important milestone, last month.
Lt. Gen. Todd T. Semonite, chief of engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, signed the Chief’s Report, recommending the study’s findings for congressional authorization.
“This milestone is tremendous achievement,” said Col. Patrick Kinsman, Norfolk District commander. “For three years, our Norfolk team, along with our city of Norfolk partners, worked tirelessly to develop a solution for one of our nation’s toughest challenges. We’re off to a great start and there’s a lot more work ahead of us.”
The Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Study considered coastal storm risk management and resilience planning initiatives and projects that are already underway by USACE, and other federal, state and local agencies, and recommends a $1.4 billion project, including storm-surge barriers, nearly eight miles of floodwall, one mile of levee, 11 tide gates and seven pump and power stations.
Economists forecast the project’s estimated annual net benefits to the city at $122 million, including, a reduction in economic damages from coastal-storm risk to businesses, residents and infrastructure, reduced risk to human health and safety from storm impacts, and, the local economy’s improved resilience to impacts from coastal storms.
Local, state and federal officials worked together to craft the Norfolk Coastal Storm Risk Management Study. Some of them are seen here, celebrating the study's possible implementation. (Courtesy photo.)
The Chief’s Report will undergo further review by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, and, the Office of Management and Budget, before its formal submission to Congress, which may choose to authorize the project for construction, commonly accomplished through a Water Resource Development Act.
After an authorization, the project cannot be constructed until it is budgeted.
The signing of the Chief’s Report marks the end of the feasibility, or study, phase, and begins the next phase, which is, pre-construction, engineering and design. This phase includes the design of the project and typically lasts at least two to three years.
“Norfolk has a tremendous working relationship with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Norfolk District,” said Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander. “We look forward to taking the study’s recommendations to the next phase of planning for construction.”
The study was the first completed feasibility study in response to a larger, North Atlantic Coast Comprehensive Study, which the corps completed following Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The study was authorized by resolution of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.