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Higgins & Poloncarz Announce $2.68 Million in Federal Funding for Construction of New Water and Sewer Systems on Site of Former Bethlehem Steel Plant

Jan 11, 2021
Press Release
Water Infrastructure Project Supports Jobs & Development on the Site

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz announced a federal grant totaling $2,680,000 awarded through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to support the Buffalo Erie County Industrial Land Development Corporation with the construction of replacement water and sewer systems in order to develop 160 acres of land at the site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant.

Congressman Higgins said, “Western New Yorkers know too well the employment and environmental challenges we have faced because of the closure of the former Bethlehem Steel Plant. This federal funding will help accelerate the ongoing investment in this site and continue the collaborative efforts of the County, ECIDA, state, city of Lackawanna and the private sector in revitalizing this regionally significant area.”

“The former Bethlehem steel site is coming back to life and attracting new investments, adding economic vitality and bringing jobs to our area,” said Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. “This critical funding will continue the momentum and expand revitalization efforts at the site, and I thank Congressman Higgins and the Economic Development Administration for their support in helping to build the new Erie County.”

The project will include the removal and replacement of the existing sewer system with new sewer lines, as well as the rehabilitation of necessary existing private sewer under NYS Route 5. With new replacement water and sewer systems, the project aims to attract investment into the area, creating new opportunities and supporting job retention.

U.S. Economic Development Administration officials had previously traveled to Western New York and toured the site at the invitation of Congressman Higgins in anticipation of this grant proposal. 

In 2013, Higgins announced the completion of a railway relocation project at the site of the former Bethlehem Steel Plant that included the installation of approximately two miles of rail track and the removal of rail tracks that had previously hindered access with the goal of opening up approximately 300 acres of land ready for development and new investment.

In 2019 the new pedestrian and bicycle Bethlehem Steel Shoreline Trail, which connects to Buffalo’s Outer Harbor trail, was completed thanks to $1.8 million in federal, state and county funding.

Bethlehem Steel, which once supported a workforce of 25,000 Western New Yorkers and occupied 1,700 acres of property in the City of Lackawanna, closed its doors in 1983. 

The EDA’s mission is “designed to establish a foundation for sustainable job growth and the building of durable regional economies throughout the United States.”  EDA grants are awarded through a competitive process based upon the application’s merit, the applicant’s eligibility, and the availability of funds. More information on EDA’s grant process and investment process can be found at www.eda.gov.