Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved more than $28 million in competitive Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds to help LaGuardia Airport meet post-Superstorm Sandy flood mitigation and resiliency initiatives and further safeguard the airport from future major storms.
“Hurricane Sandy caused significant damage to LaGuardia Airport, but today we are taking an important step toward strengthening its infrastructure so that it is more resilient than ever before,” Governor Cuomo said.
“To face the new pattern of extreme weather, we must ensure that vital transportation hubs and economic engines like LaGuardia Airport are ready for the next major storm. This is another example of how the State and our federal partners are building a safer and stronger New York.”
LaGuardia Airport’s airfield suffered severe flooding from the rising waters of adjacent Flushing Bay as Superstorm Sandy struck the region.
Damage to key electrical airfield infrastructure forced the airport to close for three days, which inconvenienced thousands of fliers and cost the region millions in lost economic activity.
Various initiatives to protect the airfield runways, electrical systems and vital aeronautical equipment already have been implemented since the October 2012 storm. The new FEMA grant of $28,148,625 is an addition to FEMA’s previous award of $2,325,000 in grants for the program’s first phase, bringing the total federal outlay for the program to nearly $30.5 million.
Port Authority Director Pat Foye said, “We must do everything we can to ensure that LaGuardia is able to withstand extreme weather and resume flight operations as quickly as possible.
“We thank the Governor for his leadership in helping secure more than $30 million in federal funding to construct new floodwalls, drainage systems and improve electrical systems that will help keep LaGuardia open for business.”
Senator Charles E. Schumer added, “As a major New York City airport, it’s absolutely necessary that LaGuardia is equipped with the mitigation and resiliency measures needed to protect the airfield in the event of a future storm.”
The projects, which have been approved by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s Board of Commissioners are:
• Construction of a floodwall and rainwater pumping system at the airport’s west end electrical substation and lighting vault.
• Development of two gravity drainage systems on the airfield to improve removal of water in case of flooding.
• Upgrades to bring the airport’s backup electrical substations into the primary power system. This work is designed to improve staff’s efforts to monitor issues and enhance response to interruptions or other usage problems.
• Improvements to existing emergency generators and installation of new back-up generators throughout the airport to provide backup power in case of electrical system problems.
These projects are consistent with the recommendations highlighted in the NYS 2100 Commission Report convened by Governor Cuomo.
The 2100 report specifically highlighted protection of critical airport infrastructure through flood control and electrical power system resiliency measures.
LaGuardia Airport employs 10,000 people and contributes more than $13 billion in total economic activity to the region.
Superstorm Sandy dumped more than 100 million gallons of water from Flushing Bay onto the airfield and closing the airport to flight operations for three days. An estimated 250,000 passengers were unable to take scheduled flights during the storm and its immediate aftermath.
In addition to the FEMA grants that cover up to 75 percent of planning, engineering and construction costs, the remaining expenses are expected to be reimbursed through allowable flight fee payments at LaGuardia.
FEMA’s reimbursements of $30.5 million are based on $40.6 million in eligible costs for the Port Authority. Federal reimbursements are not applicable to an additional nearly $5 million the Port Authority has set aside for project contingency and other agency soft costs.
Construction contracts for these projects will be procured via publicly advertised/low bid processes.
Project work is expected to continue through the end of 2016, with a total economic impact estimated at 220 job-years, $13.1 million in wages and $66 million in economic activity.