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Flood-Prone NJ Town Looks To Raise Entire Downtown

By Kevin Penton

HIGHLANDS, N.J. (AP) – Along the Bayshore, people often say they live on either the “wet” or the “dry” side of Route 36.

The distinction was particularly apt during Superstorm Sandy, which brought flooding primarily to communities north of the highway, which runs east to west along a working-class stretch of Monmouth County.

Highlands officials are dreaming of eliminating the distinction in the borough with arguably the most ambitious flood-control measure of all: raising the entire downtown.

In their vision, not only would every residential or commercial front door go up at least 10 feet – a process that already has begun in many parts of the Jersey Shore – but every curb, crosswalk and blade of grass would as well.

By their own estimates, the process would cost less than $200 million, take two years to complete and require millions of cubic yards of fill, consisting of either dredged material from Raritan Bay, chunks of concrete from construction sites or lots of barges full of gravel and dirt.

“The cost of doing nothing ultimately would be much higher,” said Mayor Frank Nolan, who lost his own house to Sandy and lived in a shelter for several days after the storm.

The idea seemed to grow credence earlier this year when the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to consider it as part of a feasibility study of the best long-term way of dealing with flooding in Highlands. But those dreaming of all of Highlands finally living up to its name, not just its more elevated southern end, may be setting themselves up for disappointment.

“It’s a very expensive option,” David Gentile, the study’s project manager, told the Asbury Park Press. “It would carry an enormous cost that may not be outweighed by its potential
benefit.”

A draft of the study – which is also looking at more traditional flood-control measures like berms and bulkheads – is due to be complete by 2015, said Gentile, who anticipates a public meeting on the issue either this fall or winter.

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Posted by FanningCommunications on Sep 3rd, 2013 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response by filling following comment form or trackback to this entry from your site

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