Posted on March 13, 2017
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, D-NY, is calling on the acting secretary of Army Civil Works to approve an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) to release funds to dredge the Ogdensburg Harbor.
Last dredged in 1984, Schumer says the harbor “is still in desperate need of deepening, which will ease congestion, reduce shipping costs and unlock new business opportunities.”
The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority said the Port’s Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) for deepening the harbor was sent to the Acting Secretary for Civil Works Doug Lamont, and is now waiting for approval. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed its feasibility study initiated in 2011 and the project’s next step will need final approval from the acting secretary, making this “a critical point in the long-awaited project,” Schumer said.
“Home to the only U.S. port on the St. Lawrence River, Ogdensburg Harbor plays a key role in the regional economy; keeping this harbor navigable and maintained will ensure that Northern New York and the St. Lawrence Seaway will continue to see the benefits associated with Ogdensburg Harbor for years to come,” Schumer said.
The harbor is at the mouth of the Oswegatchie River and is the closest U.S. Seaway Port to Europe. It is also the northernmost port in New York.
The port provides a full range of terminal services at its deep draft commercial harbor, where the main commodities shipped and received include road salt and corn gluten, and also include other grains, fertilizers and project cargo like wind mill parts.
Between 2008 and 2012, the port shipped and received an average tonnage of 105,000 tons. Overall, the port annually generates more than $4 million. It also supports 31 “direct, indirect and induced jobs” that produce over $2 million per year in personal income, according to Schumer. On top of this, it is home to an auxiliary U.S. Coast Guard station.
For these reasons, Schumer said the harbor is a critical asset to the region, and it should therefore be maintained properly in order to help sustain the regional economy and contribute to economic development. He says it is concerning the harbor was last dredged in 1984.
“While the harbor requires dredging on an infrequent basis, more than three decades of bureaucratic ineptitude have resulted in lost business opportunities at the port because the harbor’s main dock is inaccessible for Seaway vessels. This is causing unnecessary congestion, increased handling costs and lost business opportunities,” Schumer said.
Without deepening the harbor, continued losses of channel depth would result in increased transportation costs between $670,000 and $820,000 or at worst the port could close to commercial traffic, according to the senator.
According to port officials, if the harbor were to be closed to commercial traffic, commodities would have to be transported by rail. This would increase annual emission rates by over 43 tons of harmful particulate matter and increase costs by $37,000 due to increased railroad related accidents.
A copy of Schumer’s letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army Civil Works:
“Dear Acting Secretary Doug Lamont:
I write to reiterate my support for the deepening of the Ogdensburg Harbor under the Continuing Authorities Program, Section 107 of the River and Harbor Act of 1960. This project, which will deepen the harbor to seaway depth, is of critical importance to the North Country’s economy. It is my hope that you will swiftly sign the recently completed Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) between Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers so the project may proceed to the implementation phase.
Located at the mouth of the Oswegatchie River in Ogdensburg, NY, the Ogdensburg Harbor is home to the only U.S. port on the St. Lawrence River, the first U.S. port on the St. Lawrence Seaway, and is the northernmost port in New York State. Owned and operated by the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, the Port of Ogdensburg provides a full range of terminal services and generates over $4 million annually in direct revenue.
Last dredged in 1984, lack of depth causes unnecessary congestion, increased handling costs and lost business opportunities. Without deepening the harbor, transportation cost could increase between $670,000 and $820,000 annually or at worst, the port could close to commercial traffic.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers’ and the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority’s Project Partnership Agreement proposes navigation improvements by deepening and widening the Lower East Channel and Lower Basin to 27 feet. When funded, the deepening of the harbor will increase capacity, reduce costs and expand and diversify traffic at the port. It is my hope that you will dedicate the appropriate resources to examine and approve this critical project.
Thank you for your consideration of this important project. The Ogdensburg Harbor plays a key role in the regional economy; keeping this harbor navigable and maintained will ensure that Northern New York and St. Lawrence Seaway will continue to see the benefits associated with Ogdensburg Harbor in the years to come.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator”
Source: North Country NOW