... it could stop things like Sandy from happening again.
The Dutch company that came up with this proposal (presumably there would be another smaller seawall around Arthur Kill between Staten Island and New Jersey) estimated that it would cost $6.5 billion. Double that price, heck, triple it, and you have not spent a lot of money relative to the benefit.
There are problems, of course. There are environmental issues. (Although stupid ones, in my opinion. This, for example, should have been built.*) There are political issues: the gates would leave Staten Island, Long Island and the Jersey Shore unprotected. And there are engineering issues: could a storm surge still come up through Long Island Sound? How high does the seawall need to be?
And there are smaller things. For example, burying power lines. Of course, that will be expensive. And as Manhattan shows, it is not a panacea. But it works to prevent outtages in outlyings areas. How expensive would that be? Well, in 1990 the city of Anaheim, California, decided to bury its lines. The cost? A four-percent surcharge on electric bills. That is high ... but as an insurance premium, not so much.
Infrastructure like the above needs to be built. The question is whether New York State (perhaps with New Jersey) can break through the sclerosis that afflicts American megaprojects and get it done. Or at least get it done before the third or fourth or fifth superstorm wreaks havoc.
I am not optimistic. I hope that I am wrong.
* The judge who killed Westway turns out to be same Thomas Griesa who has made all the rulings in the Argentine default cases.
UPDATE: Via Matt Yglesias (and a few intermediate links) you can find more detailed proposals from a 2009 conference.