A project that aims to protect Hoboken from flooding caused by storm surges like Hurricane Sandy may miss its funding deadline.
According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, which hosted a public meeting on the project on Dec. 12, the Rebuild By Design project team has already requested an extension from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to complete the plan, which would create a resist structure in portions of Hoboken, Jersey City, and Weehawken.
HUD awarded the project a $230 million grant in 2014.
To get the funds, the project had a completion deadline of September 2022, but Dennis Reinknecht of the Office of Flood Hazard Risk Reduction Measures for the NJ DEP, said that design complications have delayed the project. The construction schedule would have to be compressed in order to make up for lost time.
This would require extended construction hours, weekend construction, multiple simultaneous road closures throughout the city, and would adversely affect the quality of life in Hoboken.
“It would be intolerable,” Reinknecht said.
“Workers and community safety would have to be considered,” he said, adding that schedule compression would drive up the cost of construction.
“What we are finding is making up that time is not looking realistic,” he said.
Challenges and Scheduling
“The project timeline is aggressive with little room to overcome normal project general issues,” Reinknecht said.
He said the project has had significant challenges, causing a delay in the start of construction, including needing to find a gate that can cross the light rail tracks at 19th Street in Weehawken; obtaining easements for properties where the Rebuild by Design’s resist structure will be constructed, which is “taking longer than anticipated;” and additional investigating of the subsurface to determine where all utilities are buried.
He noted that permits for the project require that all property easements be resolved before permits are approved.
“The team is working hard to resolve these issues during the next few months,” Reinknecht said.
Because of these challenges, he said the Rebuild by Design team expects the design and bid phase of the project to be completed by the end of 2020, with the final project completed after the September 2022 deadline because the DEP has requested a 24-month extension.
“I feel that that schedule extension should be granted, and I think it will be granted,”Reinknecht said. “We deserve it.”
Finalizing the design
The meeting was primarily about the latest design updates for the resist structures in Hoboken’s north and south.
According to the design team, the resist structure will be constructed primarily from concrete formliner. Formliner is a rubber mold applied to concrete as it is curing.
This will give the resist structure a variety of textures and designs, but it won’t add any complexity to the construction or maintenance of the resist structure once completed.
This formliner will be coated in a metal powder in a vibrant orange hue that the design team said mimics the brick found throughout properties in Hoboken. It also harkens back to the city’s Dutch roots as well as the city’s favorite son, Frank Sinatra, who was quoted as saying “Orange is the happiest color.”
“It is an uplifting, energetic color but also a color that is alerting,” said Christy Cheng, a member of the design team.
She said the design team felt and members of the public felt it was important to make sure the project was unified but didn’t blend into the background.
The resist structure, which will be constructed at differing heights, from ground level to roughly 12 feet, will incorporate a variety of amenities.
Amenities include benches, planters, wayfinding signage, educational panels, and lighting.
The side with the most amenities, where people will interact with the resist structure the most, will be more orange than the passive side of the resist structure, which will face buildings and the street, because it’s more active
One concern for residents was maintaining the width of the pass-through space of the sidewalk. The design maintained this space and in some places even widened it to make it easier for pedestrians to circulate.
The design of the resist structure, including Cove Park, will be completed by the end of the year.
For more information on the Rebuild By Design project go to https://www.nj.gov/dep/floodresilience/rbd-hudsonriver.htm.