New York City’s aging infrastructure is due for new investment. Hurricane Sandy reminded us all just how vulnerable New York City is to the effects of climate change. Chris believes we need to invest in significant infrastructure upgrades to ensure that all of the city’s neighborhoods are able to handle future storms.  With interest rates at all time lows, now is a great time for the City, State, and Federal government to invest in New York City’s future. In addition to protecting New Yorkers against future disasters, these critical investments will also create good jobs and stimulate our economy.

As Mayor, Chris plans to:

  • Rebuild smarter to address the challenges of climate change. Chris believes we need to invest in significant infrastructure upgrades to ensure that all of the city’s neighborhoods are able to handle future storms. Chris will take steps to build protective structures around our city based on the recommendations of the Army Corp of Engineers. These may include hard infrastructure like seawalls, bulkheads, or floodgates, or more natural defenses like sand dunes, wetlands and embankments, or raising elevation above the floodplain.

  • Better prepare Con Edison and other utilities to handle future storms and emergencies. Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to more than 800,000 homes and businesses in New York City for days, even weeks. Chris will work with our utility companies to take real steps to improve how they handle future emergencies. Con Ed needs to improve their protocols for shutting off power to vulnerable substations. All utility companies need to erect structures around power plants and substations in at-risk areas to protect them from storm surges of at least 20 feet. They also need to take immediate steps to flood-proof vulnerable infrastructure.

  • Protect power lines from storm damage. There are a number of neighborhoods, particularly in Staten Island, Queens, and the Bronx, where overhead power lines seem to come down every time we have heavy winds. Chris will work to make sure that utility wires in parts of these neighborhoods are buried underground, where they’ll be better protected, just as they are in most parts of the city.

  • Prevent loss of cell phone coverage in an emergency. At Chris’ request, AT&T and T-Mobile have agreed to permanent emergency network-sharing agreements, and Chris will push other wireless providers to follow their example. This means that even when networks go down, customers can place calls just like they normally would, and their calls will be carried by whichever network is most operational in their area. This will go a long way towards ensuring that New Yorkers in distress can get emergency help or reach loved ones.

  • Implement major changes to the region’s gasoline distribution network. Hurricane Sandy devastated our ability to access gasoline, whether it was needed by commuters or emergency vehicles. In the immediate aftermath of the storm we saw six-hour waits at the pumps, and volunteers unable to reach hard-hit areas due to a lack of fuel. We need to stormproof critical systems at refineries and storage facilities to protect them from flooding and provide significantly more back-up power when the lights go out. We need to build in redundancy so if the supply chain is compromised, fuel can still get to where it’s needed. And big oil companies need to do much more to support their local stations.

  • Accelerate investment in New York City’s sewer system. Sewage overflows that pollute our waterways remain far too common. Residents and business owners who have to deal with sewer backups have had enough. Chris have a plan to accelerate major sewer and wastewater treatment projects, to make sure they stand up both to major storms like Sandy and to more common flooding. Electrical equipment and other critical systems also need to be elevated at treatment plants in flood zones. Pumping stations must be upgraded and protected from storm surges. Lastly, we need to speed up our efforts to improve our sewers themselves and install tools to help absorb water runoff.

  • Seek safeguards against flooding of the city’s transportation system. There are steps we can take to protect our subways from the flooding we face not just during a hurricane but practically every time it rains. There are small steps that we can take today like installing raised buffers around subway grates to prevent water from seeping in or elevating the entrances to our stations a couple of feet above ground. Then there are new technologies that we’ll explore like industrial balloons that can completely seal off subway or vehicular tunnels from flooding. Chris is also committed to continuing to invest in more resilient means of transportation like buses and ferries.

  • Create the Age Friendly Fund - a pool of $50 million in funding for age friendly infrastructure and community projects, to be allocated by a panel of older New Yorkers.  More than 1.3 million people, or 16% of all New Yorkers, are currently over 60 years old and it’s estimated that by 2030 that number will grow to 1.8 million people.  New York City is already one on the best places in the world for older adults, but there are still aspects of the city’s physical infrastructure that can be hard to navigate.  As Mayor, Chris will use a combination of public, private and foundation funding to create a $50 million Age Friendly Fund, dedicated to alleviating some of these challenges. She’ll appoint a panel of seniors from all over the city, made up of both aging experts and everyday older New Yorkers who will engage in a strategic planning process and give the Mayor’s office their input on how best to allocate these funds.
  • Create New York City’s first Welcome Home Center for returning veterans. There is a long screening and training process to join the military but when you leave the service you’re often left with just a handshake and a piece of paper. For new veterans, the services and benefits they’ve earned are complex and difficult to navigate. New York City can do more that’s why Chris will create a NYC “Welcome Home Center” located in Times Square where veterans can check in upon returning home and get help cutting through red-tape to receive counseling, support and other services immediately. Chris will combine this with a partnership with Veteran Service Organizations throughout the city to create support centers located in each borough for follow-on support so that the process of getting out of the military is just as smooth as it was getting in.