$940,000 State Grant will Aid Ogdensburg Port Project, but Millions more Still Needed (USA - New York)

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Posted January 1, 2019

A $940,000 grant announced by state officials Monday will help whittle the costs associated with dredging Ogdensburg Harbor and extending the port’s dock, but there is still nearly a $10 million gap to fill before the more than $24 million initiative becomes a reality.

Broken into two components, the project calls for spending $10.1 million on deepening the St. Lawrence River at the Port of Ogdensburg, as well as an additional $14.5 million to pay for lengthening the terminal’s dock wall.

The estimated $24.6 million extension and deepening will allow the port authority to service two ships at once and could open up new business opportunities, according to officials. Right now the facility is capable of berthing only one vessel at a time.

But coming up with money to pay for the expansion and deepening — which have involved years of planning and engineering — has been a heavy lift for the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, which operates the port and the Ogdensburg International Airport.

Monday’s announcement that the state’s Regional Economic Development Council is dedicating $1 million toward the effort is certainly a positive development, but more than 40 percent of the amount needed has still not been found.

An executive summary report of projected costs provided by the OBPA shows that of the $10.1 million needed to deepen the harbor, only $4 million had been committed prior to Monday. And of the $14.5 million needed for the port’s dock extension, only $10 million had been earmarked.

The expansion and deepening are to be paid for with a combination of state and federal grants and an investment from the OBPA itself.

Deepening and other improvements at the Ogdensburg Harbor, last dredged in 1984, are designed to ease congestion, reduce shipping costs and unlock new business opportunities, according to officials.

Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Executive director Wade A. Davis said this week’s announcement of an additional $940,000 in state money for the combined infrastructure upgrade is welcome news and an important step toward the project’s completion.

But more money is needed.

“The authority greatly appreciates the additional funding from Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council,” Mr. Davis said. “This funding will be used to continue to close the almost $10 million funding gap for this regionally significant 24- million-dollar combined project.”

The proposed port expansion has been in the planning stages for years, and the final cost has fluctuated. In 2016, the project was expected to total slightly more than $18 million, but that cost spiked after engineers said the dredging and terminal expansion would have to be split into separate components.

The Port of Ogdensburg is the only U.S. port on the St. Lawrence Seaway, and is the northernmost port in New York state.

Cargo handled at the facility over the years includes wind turbine components; electrical generation equipment, transportation equipment, military cargo, dried distillers grains, road salt and other commodities, according to OBPA officials.

Source: Watertown Daily Times