Hurdle cleared in Route 5 breakwall construction

Local News

A hurdle that could have snagged the building of a breakwall along a busy lakeside stretch of Route 5 has been worked out, according to Sen. Charles Schumer’s office, which states that construction should begin as soon as possible. 

New York State was previously going to pay for 35 percent of the project. The federal government then agreed to pick up the entire $6 million tab, but that was then contingent upon the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the New York State Department of Transportation signing a new project agreement.

That agreement between the New York State Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was finally signed on Wednesday.

New York State Senator Chris Jacobs absolved the Army Corps of Engineers of any responsibility for the delay.

“It was the State Department of Transportation that was the challenge here,” Jacobs said.

Dating back to the beginning of May, Jacobs said the DOT was unresponsive when he asked for an update on talks.

Department of Transportation Region 5 Director Frank Cirillo responded with the following statement: “It’s also important to note that due to factors beyond New York’s control, federal funding previously allocated for this project was diverted elsewhere. During that time, the Department of Transportation and the Army Corps of Engineers were in contact with each other and remained committed to moving this project forward expeditiously.

Recognizing the importance of this project for the Western New York region, we are pleased that new funding has recently been identified by ACOE and an agreement on the project has now been reached with ACOE, which will allow construction to commence this summer.”

The breakwall along Lake Erie in Athol Springs will serve to stop the powerful waves that during strong weather, crash across the busy link to the Southtowns, and have even encased a car in ice.

The design for the 1,325-foot-long breakwall includes a “splash apron” to shield vehicles from water, and will double as a walkway.

Army Corps of Engineers officials will now work on finding a contractor to do the project. While the DOT says construction will begin this summer, army corps officials say construction will likely take place going into Spring 2020.

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