BUFFALO, NY --
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Buffalo District and the City of Buffalo celebrated completion of the new seawall at Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park during a ceremony today. The $10.6 million project included repairs to over 1,300 feet of seawall.
The seawall protects one of Buffalo’s most critical pieces of infrastructure, the Col. Francis G. Ward Pumping Station, and one of its most popular recreation spaces, Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park, from flooding.
“This project secures a foundation for the transformation of LaSalle Park into the new Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park and protects water supply infrastructure critical to Buffalo residents,” said Congressman Brian Higgins. “From the Centennial Park seawall to new projects like the Outer Harbor breakwater, Times Beach, and the habitat restoration initiative adjacent to Wilkeson Pointe, federal investments in projects led by the Army Corps Buffalo District are contributing to a stable, healthy and vibrant Western New York waterfront.”
“We thank the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for completing these critical repairs to the seawall along the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Centennial Park waterfront,” City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said. “This long-planned project provides protection to the city’s Col. Ward Pumping Station, while also providing an essential infrastructure component to secure what will be a world-class waterfront destination for generations to come.”
“The Lake Erie seawall and the neighborhood pedestrian bridge are critical infrastructure projects identified during the Imagine LaSalle community engagement process and important additions to the future park development. We’re excited for the completion of Phase 1 of the seawall repairs, the first of many aligned projects in Ralph Wilson Park. We thank all of the stakeholders focused on critical water infrastructure, shoreline resilience, climate change mitigation and natural aquatic habitat growth, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Governor Hochul, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the Great Lakes Commission, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper and the City of Buffalo,” J.J. Tighe, Director of Parks & Trails Initiative for the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation said.
“As the Nation’s engineers, it’s been especially exciting to work on a coastal infrastructure project that that protects the Col. Ward Pumping Station – one of Western New York’s most historic engineering achievements, and one of the most critical pieces of infrastructure for the City of Buffalo,” said Lt. Col. Eli Adams, Buffalo District Commander. “It’s equally rewarding to know our partnership with the city, the Imagine LaSalle initiative, and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation has helped achieve a vision for Centennial Park that will benefit the community for years to come.”
Construction of the new seawall began in fall 2020 and was completed in December 2021 by the Buffalo District and its contractor, Cold Spring Construction Company of Akron, New York.
The pre-existing seawall had deteriorated over time due to Lake Erie ice and wave action. Without replacement, its deterioration would have resulted in critical damage and eventual failure of the pumping station, which provides clean, reliable drinking water to more than 250,000 residents and many commercial businesses in the City of Buffalo.
The new seawall design replaced old technology with new for a long-lasting structure able to withstand the forces of Lake Erie, local weather, and heavy use. Steel sheet pile and pipes replaced weathered timber cribbing and wood piling. Engineering soils replaced random industrial fill to improve on-site drainage, and new concrete replaced damaged asphalt.
Designs were also closely coordinated with the $50 million Imagine LaSalle project and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. The Buffalo District incorporated custom-fabricated railings designed by RWJF’s landscape architecture firm and enlarged the footprint of the seawall’s concrete pad to facilitate alternative future uses as part of the future vision for Centennial Park.
This project was completed under USACE’s Continuing Authorities Program, Section 103 for Hurricane and Storm Damage Reduction.
Compared to an estimated $13.6 million to maintain the previous seawall over 50 years, USACE’s project saved taxpayers three million dollars in completing the new seawall at a total cost of $10.6 million.
The project’s $1.1 million design and feasibility phase was cost-shared with the City of Buffalo as its non-federal sponsor. The $8.79 million construction phase, as well as general and administrative costs, were fully federally funded through the Emergency Supplemental Act of 2018.
USACE and the City of Buffalo are pursuing additional funding under the Army Corps’ Continuing Authorities Program to design and repair the seawall south of the completed project. This additional work would protect the pumping station’s water filtration area.
Additional photos and video available: https://flickr.com/photos/buffalousace/albums/72157715632125801
For more information about the project visit: https://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/Portals/45/docs/ProjFact/New%20York%2026/NY26LaSalleParkBuffalo.pdf
For more information about USACE’s Continuing Authorities Program visit: https://www.lrb.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Overview/Continuing-Authorities-Program/
For more information about the Imagine LaSalle Park project visit: https://regional-institute.buffalo.edu/project/imagine-lasalle/
The Buffalo District delivers world class engineering solutions to the Great Lakes region, the Army and the Nation in order to ensure national security, environmental sustainability, water resource management, and emergency assistance during peace and war.