During Hurricane Sandy, the storm surge was 9 – 10 feet in the Long Island Sound. However, it could have been much worse (up to ~17 feet). With future storm surge predicted to be even higher, Bridgeport must begin preparing now.
Though inconvenient, flooding in predominately low-lying Seaside Park could be seen as a wise land use allocation because there is a low risk of intensive flood damage, as there are few buildings. However, a lack of waterfront property hurts Bridgeport’s tax revenues.
Bridgeport is only an hour train ride from bustling Manhattan, but its downtown suffers from vacant buildings and low pedestrian foot traffic.
While industrial buildings along the river may have one time made great economic sense, today they prevent access and keep valuable properties off the tax rolls.
In addition to storm surge and combined sewer overflow challenges, Bridgeport also experiences flooding when culverted and sometimes covered inland waterways and creeks overflow and flood surrounding properties.
During intense rain events, former upland streams are likely to flood. Many of these streams run through neighborhoods and pose a risk to housing.
Over the last decades, many cities have undertaken projects to expose previously covered waterways. One example is in Yonkers, New York. In the first half of the century the river was channeled underground and covered to create more room for parking. Today the river serves as a downtown amenity and green space.
Bridgeport’s industrial past equips it with the culture, skills, and infrastructure to adapt to small-scale manufacturing and green energy production in the 21st century. These qualities are visible in the Black Rock Harbor neighborhood and near the power plants of South End.
View of Bridgeport from the Long Island Sound Ferry heading to Port Jefferson.