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Army Corps of Engineers withdraws $10M commitment for Ogdensburg port dredging

The Army Corps of Engineers has taken away a $10 million commitment for a dredging project at the Port of Ogdensburg. Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority officials say they’re not giving up on the project. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

Posted on April 11, 2022

OGDENSBURG — The Army Corps of Engineers has withdrawn a $10 million funding commitment for a project that would have dredged the Port of Ogdensburg.

The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Board of Directors made the announcement during its Thursday full board meeting, during which the board passed a resolution acknowledging the funding withdrawal.

The project would have modified a 300-by-500-foot section of the federal channel to an authorized depth from 19 feet to 27 feet. OBPA Executive Director Steven J. Lawrence said the Army Corps initially estimated the project to cost $11.3 million. The corps put the project out to bid, and received an estimate from just one bidder for $27,670,615.

Because of contingencies the Army Corps of Engineers is required to build into the project price, and increased construction and labor costs, the project’s actual price ended up coming to $42.6 million. After the corps money and commitments from the state Department of Transportation, the authority would have been required to come up with $11,400,000.

Mr. Lawrence said the authority “cannot commit this extraordinary sum at this time.”

Board members were frustrated and upset that the corps’ initial cost estimate missed the mark by so much, and that they would withdraw their funding.

OBPA Board Chair Vernon D. “Sam” Burns said he spoke with representatives from the Army Corps and the federal government and the suggestion came up to use money from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to cover the balance.

“They would not even request that from Congress to increase the $10 million because they wanted to spread out the additional funding for other states. That was the reply I received,” Mr. Burns said.

He called the response “a slap in the face to the Bridge and Port Authority and the state of New York.”

“It leaves a bad taste in my mouth for the Corps of Engineers,” Mr. Burns said. “I think they let us down, plain and simple. They let down all of Northern New York and the state of New York, in my opinion.”

Mr. Lawrence said the OBPA is not giving up on the dredging project.

“OBPA remains committed to the project as it is of great importance to the port facility” and “continues to identify and seek funding,” he said.


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