ALGOMA, Wis. (NBC 26) — One long, now frozen-over breakwater has been an Algoma staple for over a century. But it won't last forever without a little help.
"It's long overdue," City of Algoma Mayor Wayne Schmidt said. "The south pier's over 100 years old. It's in desperate need of repair."
Algoma is set to receive over $19 million to repair the Harbor's south breakwater. The project is led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"We had no indication this was coming at all," Schmidt said. "We had been working with the Corps of Engineers. We had been working with our representatives trying to get some additional moneys to do some repair work."
The investment is part of a federal infrastructure law that was passed back in November. According to U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, the dollars used to update the south breakwater — or south pier — are mainly sourced from unused Covid relief.
There's currently no blueprint for what exactly will be repaired.
"This first 75 to 100 feet had pretty significant failure and that's how this whole, I guess, thing probably started," City of Algoma Director of Public Works Matt Murphy said.
When construction starts remains unknown. But Senator Baldwin says the millions will be allocated over the course of five to 10 years.
"That breakwater provides protection for our marina, which we have all these boat slips that we rent out which is a good income for the city," Schmidt said.
And when it's not covered in ice, the south breakwater's walkway is filled with fishermen and tourists.
"We have John Q. Public using that pier, walking out just to get to the end to get closer to the lighthouse or fishing off it," Schmidt said.
The City of Algoma says it will reach out to the Army Corps of Engineers to learn more. Officials learned about the money on Tuesday.
"It’s a pipe dream, but a pipe dream that came true," Schmidt said. "We’re ecstatic about this today."
Last month, the Corps of Engineers also announced $500,000 for dredging on the Big Suamico River, $50,000 for the Central Brown County Water Authority to complete a feasibility study, and $1.5 million for Menasha Dam repairs on the Fox River.