Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The City of Lockport will seek $3 million in state funding to restore two more of the Flight of Five Erie Canal locks.
That’s the anticipated cost to restore locks 68 and 71, the top lock, according to Chuck Bell, the city’s director of planning and development.
The request will be made through the state’s consolidated funding application, which is vetted by the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council. Funding is for development projects that are judged to help spur economic growth. The regional council last year OK’d a $1 million grant for Lockport Ice Arena and Sports Center, which was dubbed a “priority” project for the Western New York region.
Currently, Flight of Five restoration work is focused on locks 69 and 70, the middle and second-from-top locks. Bell said the work, which aims to restore the locks to their condition circa 1864, should be completed within the next four to six weeks. The mammoth wooden gates for those locks were installed last month by Hohl Industrial Services of Tonawanda. This “initial” phase of restoration is financed mostly from a federal transportation grant, although the city had to borrow about $400,000 to meet a local grant matching requirement.
In the 19th century, the Flight of Five was parallel sets of locks operated to move boat traffic through a 60-foot elevation change in the Niagara Escarpment near Pine Street. The south-side set of locks was removed 100 years ago to make way for current, modern locks E34 and E35. The north-side set has served as a spillway for the modern locks ever since.
Also last week, the Common Council approved city sponsorship of a $250,000 grant application by Lockport Main Street Inc. and the Greater Lockport Development Corp., which seek state funding for improvements to downtown business buildings. Owners would have to cover 25 percent of the cost of their projects if the grant effort succeeds a second time. A 2011 grant of $251,300 underwrote upgrading of seven buildings.