Change in plan to build Hamburg breakwall means contractor can’t be selected just yet

Local News

There is a new wrinkle in the plan to install a breakwall on Lake Erie in the Athol Springs area of Hamburg.

The federal government is now agreeing to pick up the entire $6 million tab. Initially, the feds had planned on taking care of about 65 percent of the costs, with New York State paying the rest.

But because of the change in plans, there’s one more holdup before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can select a contractor for the project. The corps of engineers and New York State Department of Transportation must sign a new project agreement. That hasn’t happened yet.

“We have an opportunity for the federal government to provide us 100 percent of these costs,” said State Senator Chris Jacobs. “That is an offer that is not on the table forever.”

Jacobs is urging state and federal officials to act fast, and get the deal signed.

The breakwall would be about 1,300 feet long. Its purpose is to eliminate problems caused by powerful waves that are infamous for causing the viral ice car and road closures on Lakeshore Road.

“Though it’s just this little area, it’s a large deterrent to anyone who has plans,” said Aileen Lange, owner of nearby Hoak’s Reastaurant, earlier this year.

Construction on the breakwall is scheduled to begin in Spring 2020. But that’s can’t happen unless the new deal is signed between the state and federal governments.

“When we’re done with the project, we’ll be turning it over to the locals,” said David Romano, the Deputy District Engineer of the U.S Army Corps of Engineers. “(The agreement) also captures the source of the funding with the new cost-sharing agreement.”

But, Romano noted, it’s not as easy as sitting in a room together and signing the piece of paper.

“It’s a change in language,” he said. “It took time for both parties to understand that. It’s my understanding that this is one of the first projects in the country to execute this agreement.”

A spokesperson for the New York State Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Romano, however, said he was hopeful that a deal could be signed within days.

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