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Congressman Higgins Announces Nearly $24 Million for Waterway Investments & Over $115 Million for Contaminated Site Cleanup in Erie & Niagara Counties

$113 Million for Niagara County Projects, $26 Million for Erie County Included in U.S. Army Corps 2023 Work Plan

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced projects across Erie and Niagara Counties are slated to receive over $139.7 million in federal funding as outlined in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 2023 work plan released on February 28.

“This is a multimillion-dollar federal investment in a clean communities and vibrant Western New York waterways,” said Congressman Higgins. “We’ve made incredible waterfront progress but to maximize the potential for recreational, commercial, and fishing boat activities, investments in the water are just as important as investments along the water’s edge. We are fortunate to call this community that borders the Great Lakes our home and grateful to the Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District for their stewardship of this region’s natural assets.”

Lt. Col. Colby Krug, Commander of the U.S. Army Corps Buffalo District said, “The Buffalo District Army Corps of Engineers is proud to be part of the many projects that have benefited the Western New York region. Our mission is to provide safe navigation, protect vital commerce and ensure the safety of human health and the environment. Investments like this are critical for mission accomplishment.”

Total Erie & Niagara County Waterway Investments: $23,978,000

Black Rock Channel & Tonawanda Harbor: $21,227,000

This Niagara River passageway allows for recreational travel between Buffalo’s Outer Harbor and Tonawanda Harbor as well as the commercial shipment of over 90 thousand tons of goods annually. The funding supports the maintenance and operation of the channel, as well as a comprehensive evaluation, of the Black Rock lock. Following the assessment, a large portion of this funding will support lock gate instillation in late 2023/early 2024. 

Separate from this amount is an additional $10 million requested and secured by Congressman Higgins in the budget for improvements to Bird Island Pier.

Buffalo Harbor: $2,711,000

Located along the Buffalo Outer Harbor in Lake Erie, funding for Buffalo Harbor will support continued dredging of the navigation channel to maintain depths necessary to support average annual commercial shipments of 964 thousand tons and will fund continued repairs to the north, south and west breakwaters.

In 2021, Congressman Higgins helped secure $13.5 million for a major reconstruction of the north breakwater, which protects Ralph Wilson Centennial Park, Waterfront Village and Erie Basin Marina. Over $10 million more, allowed for Army Corps construction of a new seawall at Ralph Wilson Centennial Park in 2022. Most recently, $10 million in funding made possible thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be invested in an Army Corps project at Times Beach Nature Preserve on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.

Olcott Harbor: $8,000

The federal funding will support safe recreational boating with maintenance dredging of Olcott Harbor, located on Lake Ontario at Eighteen Mile Creek in Niagara County’s Village of Olcott. 

Wilson Harbor: $8,000

Located on Lake Ontario at Twelve Mile Creek, Wilson Harbor is home to a recreational and charter boat community that generates $8.5 million for the local economy through restaurants, retail, and other economic activity. Federal funding will support harbor maintenance.

Sturgeon Point: $24,000

Provides operation and maintenance resources, as well as funding authorized through a cooperative agreement with the Town of Evans, for sand bypassing and/or dredging to maintain Lake Erie’s Sturgeon Point Marina which supports recreational boating and charter fishing operations.

Surveillance of Northern Boundary Waters, NY: $710,000

Not included in the Erie and Niagara County allocations listed above, but also impacting Western New York is $710,000 in federal funding “to support the work of the Corps with Canada on issues pertaining to the waters that cross or are along the Canada – United States boundary.”

Total awards to Erie and Niagara Counties under the Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP): $115,750,000

The federal government provides resources through the FUSRAP program created in 1974 to identify and support the cleanup or control of sites contaminated as a result of the Manhattan Project. 

Former Guterl Specialty Steel Corp in Lockport : $103,650,000

The Guterl Steel site, which was owned by Simonds Saw and Steel Company during WWII, was used through a contract with Atomic Energy Commission to roll uranium. Funding will support completion of the Record of Decision and contracting for remedial activities set to begin in 2024.

Niagara Falls Storage Site in Lewiston : $10,000,000

In 1944, the site received radioactive waste from nuclear weapon research and development work conducted under the Manhattan Project. Resources will support the continued design of the cleanup of the most complex aspect of the site, the Interim Waste Containment Structure with some contract awards planned for 2024. Long in planning phases, this project is advancing toward substantial clean-up. USACE recently solicited contracts for the cleanup of a portion of the site termed “Balance of Plant”- this $10 million will support the cleanup of these sites in Niagara County. In the coming years, this project will exceed $500 million.

Seaway Industrial Park in Tonawanda : $2,000,000

The site served as a landfill accepting waste, including materials from Linde which processed uranium ores under the Manhattan Project. Funding will support construction of the landfill cap.

Tonawanda Landfill in Tonawanda : $100,000

The site accepted municipal waste from the mid-1930s through 1989 and was granted FUSRAP status due to its proximity to the Linde FUSRAP site. Remedial action was taken in previous years. Today portions of the property is known as the North Youngmann Commerce Center, which is home to manufacturing companies and other businesses. Resources will support a five-year review and continue close out activities.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District, under the leadership of District Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Colby Krug, has an area of responsibility that covers 38,000 square miles, includes 35 harbors, and more than 1,600 miles of shoreline along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. The Buffalo District also manages FUSRAP sites within the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division.