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Experts: NYC sea barrier could have stopped superstorm surge

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But Gov. Andrew Cuomo opened the door to new ideas Tuesday, saying that the government has a responsibility to think about new designs and techniques to protect the city in the face of what look like increasingly frequent megastorms.

One doesn’t have to go to Europe or New Orleans to find examples of massive sea barriers: The city of Providence, R.I., has been protected by a 3,000-foot gated barrier since 1966. Construction was prompted by two devastating hurricanes in 1938 and 1954. The barrier has prevented flooding of the low-lying parts of the city several times since then, including during Sandy.

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"This is not far-out science or engineering," Bowman said. "This is easy to do."

"Easy" doesn’t mean it would be something that could be put in place quickly. Even after politicians line up behind the project, funding, permitting and environmental studies are likely to take years.

"It could take 20 years before people even start pouring concrete," Bowman said.

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