NEW YORK (FOX5NY.COM) - In 2014, the federal government awarded New York City hundreds of millions of dollars to make improvements so that the next time a coastal storm comes around we don't see the same level of catastrophic flooding as we did in Superstorm Sandy.
But some of the projects are behind schedule, according to Amy Chester, the managing director of Rebuild by Design, the nonprofit that oversaw a design competition to make parts of the tristate area more resilient against devastating storms like Sandy.
Seven rebuild projects were greenlighted, she said. The ones in Staten Island and Hoboken are furthest ahead. But the biggest project, called the BIG U, to protect lower Manhattan from flooding, is now seeing big delays.
Chester explained the BIG U will be a multipurpose berm adjacent to the FDR Drive. It will create a new environment for the community.
The city has split the work on the BIG U in two parts. The East River Coastal Resiliency Program will be the first to get underway. But when that happens remains to be seen and conflicting information abounds. The city's #OneNYC map projects a completion date of late 2020. But the website of the Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency says construction is slated to start in early 2019 and then take about five years.
Chester said that New York City hasn't begun an environmental impact statement for the BIG U. That will take about a year.
Fox 5 asked Mayor Bill de Blasio about the progress on storm preparedness. He said all the plans are moving forward.
"Some are completed, some are being built and some are in design and will start to be built," he said. "That includes a lot of the activity you will see in that U."
Also, MTA official Andy Byford said that improvements to prevent flooding in the subways have also been made, despite scenes like the one from earlier this week, which seem to be a repeat occurrence.
"So we have done here since Superstorm Sandy here, we have a dedicated division which is set up to deliver a whole suite of programs to make the system more resilient," Byford said. "We're in a much better place. There's still a bit more to do with what you might call run-of-the-mill events like very, very heavy downpours."
One concern regarding the BIG U storm resiliency program is that if the project is delayed too long, the money for it will be at risk. If the $500 million allocated by the federal government isn't spent by 2022, Congress can take it back.