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Following Higgins' request, $13.5 million+ in federal funding directed to Buffalo Harbor breakwater

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Fri, Jan 22nd 2021 05:20 pm

Structure protects Wilson Centennial Park, Waterfront Village, Erie Basin Marina

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced plans for major improvements to the north breakwater in the Buffalo Harbor thanks to $13.5 million in federal funding. The resources were included in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District’s funding allocation work plan released this week.

Higgins said, “This federal funding provides a huge boost to efforts to fix Buffalo’s north breakwater, allowing for substantial work to proceed this year. We’ve made significant progress on the waterfront, but continuing that momentum requires equal diligence to protect the water and the shoreline. The Army Corps Buffalo District serve as skillful stewards of our water and this will support their continued work.”

The 2021 fiscal year budget designated the Buffalo Harbor $1,208,000 in funding, but none of this was directed specifically to the north breakwater. The Omnibus Appropriations Law passed by Congress in December increased the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations and maintenance account by $60 million over prior levels, an increase of approximately 2% to $3.9 billion in total. With this increase in funding, about 20% of the new, additional funds made available nationally will be coming to Buffalo.

The total project, including subsequent phases, is expected to cost over $23 million.

In December, Higgins wrote to the leadership of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requesting additional funding for Buffalo’s north breakwater, pointing out the design process for repairs is complete and the project is ready to begin this year.

The north breakwater was breached in the October 2019 storms, reducing the protection it affords to Buffalo’s waterfront from high wave action. The gaps in the breached structure are visible from the end of the Erie Basin Marina and from Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park. The 2,200-foot breakwater, built in 1904, was designed to provide 50 years of protection to the shoreline. Higgins’ office has heard from homeowners in Waterfront Village that, on at least three separate occasions since the breach in 2019, homes have suffered flooding and water damage.

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