EDITORIAL: Mr. President, build this wall instead

The network of seawalls, berms, and elevated waterfront proposed in the city’s Lower Manhattan Protect and Connect project would protect Downtown from flooding well into the future, even if America fails to act against climate change. And the pricetag, pegged at $600 million, is a bargain compared to the billions of dollars in damage to local real estate — including the President’s own eponymous building at 40 Wall St. — it could prevent.


The Inauguration of President Trump last week flooded Downtown’s streets with protesters as part of a nationwide demonstration that may well have been the biggest in the country’s history. But there is a chance — albeit slight — that the incoming President may help prevent Lower Manhattan flooding of the wetter kind.

Hurricane Sandy laid bare Downtown’s vulnerability to storm surges — which will only get worse, experts say, as sea levels rise and climate change pushes the path of Atlantic tropical storms ever northward. Trump’s professed belief in the conspiracy theory that climate change is a hoax means he is not likely to confront the danger from that end, but there is reason to hope that he might be persuaded at least to address the  problem from the other.

Lower Manhattan Protect and Connect, the network of seawalls, berms, and elevated waterfront envisioned to protect Downtown from future flooding, is expected to cost at least $600 million, and the city is still short half that funding. For a President promising to increase spending on vital infrastructure projects to put people back to work — and who even owns property in the area needing protection — funding this project would seem like a win-win.

A wall along the Mexican border to stem a tide of illegal immigrants that has been ebbing for nearly a decade would be an endless boondoggle whose effect, if any, would never be noticed. A flood barrier for Lower Manhattan would provide a tangible benefit to one of the nation’s foremost economic engines.

Funding Lower Manhattan Protect and Connect would allow Trump to achieve a bipartisan policy objective (infrastructure), advance his own ideological stance (adapting to climate change rather than preventing it), and — perhaps most importantly — serve his own self-interest (the Trump Building at 40 Wall St.).

Now that would be an artful deal.