One of Western New York's favorite places to take a long walk on a long pier is getting some much-needed attention.
Work began Wednesday morning on Bird Island Pier south of the Peace Bridge to make repairs to the railing system that was damaged by a late winter windstorm.
During the storm, some ice "over topped" the ice boom and collided into the pier, said Michael J. Finn, commissioner of the city's department of public works, parks and streets.
"It took out a good portion of the railing system for the Bird Island Pier," he said.
"It was the size of the ice coming over the ice boom that was really unusual," he added. "We do get ice that goes up on that (ice boom) but not the size and the force that it came with."
On Feb. 24, strong southwesterly winds of up tp 70 mph pushed the Lake Erie waters from Ohio toward Buffalo. The momentum from the seiche tore up ice on eastern Lake Erie and shoved it onshore on both sides of the border. The winds thrust tons of lake ice onshore turning Hoover Beach in Hamburg into hills of ice.
This same storm ripped roofs off some commercial buildings, including the bookstore at the University at Buffalo’s North Campus and the roof of Sahlen Field in Buffalo, where some air venting units also were damaged.
After the storm, the city closed most of the pier for safety reasons, but a stretch between Broderick Park and the Peace Bridge remained open, Finn said.
"We've seen a lot of folks using that this summer," he said. "I've seen people – as I've driven on the 190 – using that section that's open and enjoying it ... so we're going to work to make sure that we get the entire section open as quickly as we can."
More than 100 steel pillars will be repaired. The work includes cutting off the bent posts then fabricating new ones, putting up the new posts and then stringing the wire rope to make the fence complete. BIDCO Marine Group, a local company that has done work for the city in the past on the West Ferry Lift Bridge, will do the repair project at a cost of $73,000, Finn said.
The project will take six to eight weeks to complete as long as the weather and water cooperate.
"This is marine work," Finn said. "So (workers) are dependent on at least safe water that they can work off of."