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At least $10M needed to fix Bird Island Pier, breakwall after October storms

Contractors for the City of Buffalo are in the final stages of replacing railings on the Bird Island Pier that were damaged during a windstorm in late February.

It will cost $75,000 to fix the damaged railings south of the Peace Bridge.

But additional damage that was done to the pier during the Halloween storm was more structural, and that repair process won't start until the spring, said city spokesman Michael J. DeGeorge.

Meanwhile, the Army Corps of Engineers in Buffalo is waiting on additional funding to make repairs to the Buffalo North breakwall underneath the pier. The breakwall, which the Army Corps owns, was damaged during storms on Oct. 27 and Halloween night, said Susan Blair, spokesperson for the Army Corps in Buffalo.

The Army Corps was already involved in a $6.1 million contract to do routine maintenance and repairs to the south end of the breakwall, which included fixing the timber underneath the concrete cap and then pouring a new concrete cap, Blair said.

The work on the south end started in August and was to be finished before the construction season ended for the winter, Blair said.

But it was not completed, and any work that had been done was destroyed during the Oct. 27 storm.

The result is that all of the work needs to be done over, but the $6.1 million has been used, Blair said.

More damage was done during the Halloween night storm on the north end of the breakwall after a number of sections – totaling about 200 feet –  failed, Blair said. In addition, there are other sections that have not failed but were damaged and have to be repaired.

None of the repairs will be done until an additional $10 million to $17 million is available.

"Once funding is available, the Corps of Engineers is ready to move dirt so we can repair that breakwall and continue protecting the shoreline," Blair said.

The breakwall – which is 2,200 feet long and is on the north end of the Outer Harbor near the U.S. Coast Guard station – is designed to prevent waves from crashing into the shoreline and flooding Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Centennial Park – formerly LaSalle Park – and parts of downtown Buffalo.

It was built in 1904 to provide up to 50 years of protection, Blair said.

The Bird Island Pier is both a recreational spot for fishing and walking as well as part of Buffalo's flood protection infrastructure.

Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper shared a photo on Facebook from the Halloween storm that showed part of the pier broken in pieces and submerged.

During a storm on Feb. 24, some ice went over the ice boom and crashed into the pier, taking out a "good portion" of its railing system, Michael J. Finn, commissioner of the city's Department of Public Works, Parks and Streets, said at the time.

Repair work begins at Bird Island Pier after harsh winter


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