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Schumer Secured +$4M in USACE Budget To Construct New Rt. 5 Barrier Wall In Athol Springs, Current Century-Old Barrier Serves As Sole Protection From Tempestuous Waters & Ice

With NYSDOT & USACE Finally Ironing Out Bureaucratic Differences, Schumer Calls On Feds To Break Ground, Expedite Timeline, And Restore Safety To One Of WNY’s Busiest Roadways

Schumer To Feds: With 100% Federal Funding And Project Agreement A Fait Accompli, It Is High Time To Break Ground & Restore Safety—WNY Has Waited Long Enough

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced, following his push, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) have settled their differences on the Project Partnering Agreement for the Athol Springs seawall project in Hamburg. Schumer explained that even though he has secured rare, 100% USACE funding – an anomaly, as USACE projects are usually funded in tandem with state governments at a 65%-35% split – construction was being held up by bureaucracy, with NYSDOT and USACE not being able to come to an agreement on the Project Partnering Agreement. Schumer worked behind the scenes to help resolve the differences and urge both entities to get to yes. With the issues resolved and project partnership agreement now a pending and fait accompli, Schumer is calling on the USACE to issue an expedited timeline to get shovels in the ground and construction on the seawall underway. Schumer said is vital to improve safety for drivers on the critical Route 5 artery between Buffalo and the Southtowns.

 “Following our prodding, I’m pleased that the federal Army Corps of Engineers and DOT have worked out their differences and forged an agreement that will greenlight rebuilding the crumbling break wall that shields drivers from the waves that crash onto Route 5 in Athol Springs,” said Senator Schumer. “I was proud to fight for and deliver the rare, 100% federal funding for this vital project, but we simply cannot afford to wait any more to start the construction on this long-sought barrier that will protect a main artery between Buffalo and the Southtowns and ensure the safety of residents and commuters. Now let’s get shovels in the ground A-S-A-P, because Western New York has waited long enough.”

Schumer explained the two entities have forged a project partnership agreement that irons out the remaining procedural and bureaucratic difference which held up the project, despite the full federal funding. Now that the issues have been resolved, the signing of the agreement is a fait accompli. Schumer noted that if the project is further delayed, then drivers, residents, and businesses would continue to be in harm’s way – especially during the winter when the water freezes almost immediately creating even more dangerous conditions. In addition to the significant safety concerns, Schumer said the economic consequences are significant: during the winter months, local officials are often forced to close the roadway, cutting off vital access to over 40,000 vehicles, and hurting many local businesses who rely on traffic from Route 5. Located along Lake Erie in the Town of Hamburg, Route 5 serves as a main artery between the city of Buffalo and communities to the south.

Schumer explained that USACE has already finished the project design for the approximately 1,325-foot revetment and 15-foot wide "splash apron" which will further protect motorists. Designed foremost for safety, the barrier will double as a concrete pedestrian walkway along the shoreline.

Nearly a century old, the existing wall is rapidly deteriorating and is no longer able to absorb or drain the large waves that result from storms on Lake Erie. The effects are even worse when southwest and west winds hit the shore putting drivers along Route 5 at constant risk of being caught by waves as they crash onto the roadway.

The announcement comes after Schumer’s visit to a waterfront business on Rt. 5 during the summer of 2017. During his visit, Schumer called on USACE to construct a new, safer, and more durable stone barrier to shield Route 5 against crashing waters from Lake Erie during large storms. Additionally, in September of last year, Schumer announced that after his advocacy, the USACE would be covering the entire cost of the new barrier.