DESCRIPTION: A 654-foot-long rock breakwater, disconnected from the shoreline and extending northwest out to the minus 16-foot contour of Lake Champlain. The 130-year-old breakwater protects the eastern terminus of the Cumberland Head-Grand Isle Ferry Route from wind and wave action and ice floes.
AUTHORIZATION: Adapted in the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1887.
STATUS: The economic and physical conditions at the harbor have changed since the breakwater was constructed. Ferry usage has increased from two small steamers each day in 1891 to larger diesel ferries making 22,000 annual landings and departures. The ferry now operates 24 hours a day and 365 days a year and transports over one million passengers each year. Rising temperatures are driving a trend towards wetter conditions, which increase the frequency and duration of high lake level events. The breakwater is almost or completely submerged during such events.
Currently, the Gordon’s Landing Breakwater does not adequately protect the ferry landing from wave and ice overtopping. Since 1891, deterioration has lowered the breakwater’s crest elevation by 2 feet across its entire length. Comparison of the 2009 and 2019 surveys shows the breakwater has lost an additional 1-4 feet of crest along its lakeward sections in the past 10 years, as a chain reaction of armor dislodging and core material loss unravels the rubblemound structure.
In the Section 216 Initial Appraisal Report signed on 19 June 2020, the District recommended a feasibility study under Continuing Authorities Program Section 107. The project was included within the CAP database and recommended as a FY21 CAP Section 107 new start. The District had communicated with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources and the Vermont Department of Transportation at the time of the IAR development concerning the possibility of serving as the non-Federal sponsor, but a NFS has not been identified at this time.
ISSUES: The Gordon’s Landing Breakwater was found to possess significance under National Register of Historic Places. Research has shown the breakwater provides rare and important spawning habitat for economically important lake trout and other fish species. Vermont fish hatchery at Gordon’s Landing that relies on local water quality to produce fish for the economically important recreational fishery. Construction would require mitigation to avoid fouling the hatchery’s intake.
FUNDING: FY21 Federal Cost: $100,000. CAP Section 107 funds requested to initiate a feasibility study but not yet received.
P: (917) 790-8426
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District
Programs and Project Management Division
26 Federal Plaza
New York, NY 10278
District Area: VT – At Large