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Conceptual Design Released for New York Storm Surge Barrier

ARCADIS (EURONEXT: ARCAD), the international design, consulting, engineering and management services company, today announced that it has provided an idea of what a storm surge barrier aimed at protecting the New York and New Jersey Metropolitan Region from severe coastal flooding might look like. The barrier is situated in the Verrazano Narrows, connecting the Upper New York Bay with the Atlantic Ocean. The ideas were disclosed in a presentation as part of a New York conference 'Against the Deluge: Storm Surge Barriers to Protect New York City.'

The barrier will be 4800 feet in length. A large sliding sector gate of 860 feet allows the biggest ships to pass the barrier during normal weather and can be closed during a storm surge. The barrier allows sufficient tidal flow in the New York Harbor Bay via the sliding gate and 18 lifting gates, which is important from an ecological point of view.

As a consequence of climate change and rising sea levels, New York might become more vulnerable to flooding. Parts of the New York and New Jersey Metropolitan Area (20 million inhabitants) are below the maximum water level of a probable storm surge, resulting from North East storms and hurricanes. Such a surge would cause significant damage to real estate and economic activities in New York. Although the area is not below sea level, the risk of human casualties is also present, as tunnels and the subway systems may flood. The proposed barrier in the Verrazano Narrows, combined with two other barriers at the East River and the Arthur Kill will minimize the danger of a storm surge entering from the Atlantic Ocean into the Upper New York Bay. The costs of the Verrazano Barrier, roughly estimated at 6.5 billion dollars, may prove economically preferable to accepting the chance of flooding.

The protection of urbanized delta areas, like the New York and New Jersey Metropolitan Area will be one of the major societal issues of the 21th century. More than half of the world's population lives in delta areas. Piet Dircke, global director water management of ARCADIS says: "Those areas are increasingly vulnerable to flooding, due to climate change. ARCADIS has a longstanding experience in urban delta flood protection. The company has its roots in the Netherlands, a country of which more than half is below sea level. The Dutch have an outstanding knowledge and centuries of experience in protecting their citizens against floods. The proposed conceptual design of the Verrazano Narrows barrier is based on this knowledge. Over time ARCADIS has been involved in the reinforcement of more than half of the river dikes during the last decades and realization of some flood gates in the Netherlands. At the moment ARCADIS is involved in several projects in the Netherlands aimed at upgrading the Dutch coastal flood protection system. In New Orleans ARCADIS is also largely involved in the upgrading of the individual set of levees, gates and barriers into a hurricane protection system, an integrated system of dikes, levees, flood gates and pump stations.

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