Anybody ever been to New Bedford, MA? This is where the dedication to the largest Hurricane Barrier in the world took place in 1966. Back then, it cost $1,000 a foot, is long enough to span the 3.5 mile width of New Bedford, is as high (and wider ) than The Great Wall of China, and has enough steel in it to build a Navy destroyer. Its two huge steel navigational-sector gates weigh 400 tons apiece-each 35 tons heavier than the biggest train ever built-and each as tall as a six-story house. It was built to with stand a Cat 3 hurricane. That being said, the barrier does close up to a dozen times a year for storm events that bring southerly gales and tidal surges. The biggest test to date was Hurricane Bob in 1991 where it protected the village from just under 8 ft tidal surges and saved the town 10’s of millions of dollars.
Many speculate that this barrier would have been met with resounding opposition by environmentalists today if an intrusive stone structure of this magnitude enclosing an entire bay or in our case river was introduced. Environmental laws and stricter regulations that were virtually non-existent 45 years ago. (Much like the back filling the town would be opposed to, no environmental laws in 1900 when they did it to Galveston.)
But, if we could get past the red tape, and did some sort of rock structure that spanned from Highlands to Sandy Hook, it could potentially work and not only protect us, but also some of the upstream towns like Sea Bright (as their flooding is more river side than Ocean) and Rumson as well.
In New Bedford, fishing or just plain strolling along the barrier is welcome. Today, by agreement with New Bedford city, waterfront, and industry officials, the Engineers shut the gates when tides rise 4 feet above mean high water level. Can you visualize never having to move your car again?
So the benefits are: Protects more towns than just Highlands. Can be an extension of Pompora & Sandy Hook parks. Could be a tourist attraction, see twin lights, sandy hook light house and biggest hurricane barrier in the world.