No one knows how long Lake Erie water will continue to splash up on Route 5 in Athol Springs, causing the road to be closed. But Rep. Chris Collins said the project to keep storm waves at bay is "now a priority of mine."
Collins got an update Friday from representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Hoak's Lakeshore Restaurant in Hamburg, which is next to where the new 1,300-foot revetment would start. The design is finished and New York State has its 35 percent matching funds ready. But it needs federal funding, Corps representatives told Collins.
"This is a bipartisan, non-partisan issue," Collins said. "There's no 'R' and 'D' in this."
In July, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-New York, stood outside Hoak's at the same spot as Collins did Friday, and urged that the federal government come up with its 65-percent of the funding - $2.5 million - for the project that is expected to cost nearly $4 million.
"Certainly my relationship with the federal government is vastly different than his," said Collins, a Republican who was an early supporter of President Trump. "There's certainly a good chance of moving this forward. You can't make promises."
Waves from the lake wash up on the road on windy days, and make for particularly hazardous roads in winter when the water freezes on the road or car windshields. The project includes building a revetment, or stone barrier, that slopes into the water absorbing waves before they hit the road. A 10-foot wide "splash apron" will top the revetment, and act as a pedestrian walkway on the lake side of Route 5 across from St. Francis High School.
Collins said he would work to get money for this type of Corps of Engineers project reallocated, and try to increase the pot of money available.