HAMBURG – High winds and rough waters threaten the Route 5 corridor along Lake Erie, but Sen. Charles Schumer (D) is pushing to secure $2.5 million in federal funding to build a new, safer, and more durable stone barrier to shield Route 5 against crashing waters from Lake Erie during large storms.
According to Schumer, the new barrier is critical to ensure the safety of drivers. Schumer said with the Omnibus passed, The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) finally has the resources it needs to prioritize the project and urged USACE to add Rt. 5 to their 2018 Work Plan.
“My message to the Army Corps has always been clear: prioritize this project, channel the resources needed and rebuild this crumbling lake-front wall on Route 5 now. Route 5 is the vital link between Buffalo and the Southtowns, but when waves from Lake Erie crash over the deteriorating wall and onto Route 5, a treacherous situation is created, endangering drivers, and often forcing local officials to close the road altogether. Route 5 is a vital pathway for thousands of Western New York drivers, allowing access to local business and schools in the Buffalo region,” said Schumer.
Schumer explained without critical federal funding drivers are at direct risk – 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 palpable: during the winter months, local official 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. Schumer is urging USACE to work with local officials to implement this critical project that will create a stronger barrier and also double as a concrete pedestrian walkway along the shoreline.
Schumer explained that USACE has already finished the project design for the approximately 1,325-foot barrier and 15-foot wide “splash apron” which will further protect motorists. Schumer said with the new funding in the recently passed Omnibus, it is time for USACE to prioritize the $2.5M in funding needed for Route 5 in order to move it to the implementation phase now that the design is complete. 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.