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Schumer Personally Visited The Aging Seaway Visitor Center To Advocate For Renovations in 2018 And Successfully Delivered $6 Million In Fed Funding To Make Today’s Ribbon Cutting Possible

Schumer Says New Center Will Be A Major Boost To Region’s Tourist Economy & Will Bolster Vital Saint Lawrence Seaway Operations – An Essential Transportation Link For The Region

Schumer: This Grand Opening Will Make Waves For Our North Country Economy & Tourists!

Following years of advocacy calling on the feds to make critical upgrades to the Dwight. D. Eisenhower Lock Visitor Center, located on the vital St. Lawrence Seaway, and after delivering major funding to jumpstart the new facility, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced the grand opening of the new Seaway Visitor Center at Eisenhower Lock in Massena, N.Y.

“The grand opening of the new Seaway Visitor Center at Eisenhower Lock, which I worked hard to deliver funding to support, is a big day for our St. Lawrence River communities, and the culmination of a years-long effort to bring much-needed upgrades to an essential transportation link and tourist destination,” said Senator Schumer. “Each year, tens of thousands of tourists visit Massena to witness ships passing through the iconic Eisenhower Lock and now they will have the modern facility needed to make their visit one to remember. These upgrades will provide a major boon to tourism and give families a proper welcome with top-notch amenities. I fought to ensure this new Visitor’s Center would open, and now it’s ready to further revitalize the entire North Country, bringing economic energy to our downtown and scenic communities. I am proud to have fought for and delivered the $6 million in federal funding that made this possible and will always work to boost our tourism economy in the North Country.”  

Schumer explained the Seaway is an integral component of the Great Lakes transportation system and economy and a major attraction for tourism in Massena, N.Y., but for years a decades-old center jeopardized the safety of workers and visitors. Now, with the new visitor center able to accommodate the tens of thousands of visitors that come each year – and attract more tourists – the area can realize its full potential, a massive boon for tourism and for residents of St. Lawrence County, which will also ensure the safety of lock operations and visitors.

Schumer said, “This brand new federally-operated facility will be a flagship tourism and community center in the heart of the North Country of New York State replacing a decades old center, which has historically attracted 100,000 visitors from all 50 states and more than 20 countries each year.  This new center will bring even more visitors and enhance their experience.”  

Schumer said the new center will create a tremendous opportunity for tourism in St. Lawrence County, with the new center able will accommodate an increasing number of visitors and provide guests with amenities, such as running water, restrooms, and ADA compliance, granting better access to all visitors. Upgrades will also provide a space for public meetings, cultural exhibits and a concession area for local businesses to sell goods and market the area, generating tremendous opportunities for the local community. Schumer added that the new center is located at an appropriate distance from the lock to ensure total operational safety. Schumer also said that the construction will help attract people from all over the world and bring new energy to the region.

Additionally, the Saint Lawrence Seaway is a critical component of the transportation system that directly serves an eight-state, two-province region that accounts for one-quarter of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), one-half of North America’s manufacturing and services industries, and is home to nearly one-quarter of the continent’s population. In 2017 alone, more than 60,000 people from 49 states and 21 countries visited the Eisenhower Lock during the summer month. Schumer added that hundreds of ships from all over the world also make thousands of transits through the St. Lawrence Seaway annually, including through the U.S.-operated locks in the North Country. These vessels, whose transits are immediately adjacent to the new Visitor Center, carry a wide variety of cargoes including grains, iron ore, coal, steel, stone, and large cargoes, such as windmill components. Schumer said as a major location for tourism and ships, This new investment will improve critical navigation and operations for maritime visitors.

Schumer personally visited the site in 2018 and noted that the worn-down, outdated visitors’ center was not safe or adequate to accommodate the number of residents and tourists that pass through it each year. He advocated for the replacement of the center and wrote to Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao and the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, urging the approval of the replacement of visitors’ center. Following Schumer’s advocacy, the Department of Transportation announced it was awarding $6 million to replace the Dwight D. Eisenhower Lock Visitors’ Center on the St. Lawrence Seaway with a brand new facility.

Schumer also helped secure $40 million in federal funding for the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation in this year’s Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus budget bill, an increase of $4M from the previous year, and that these dollars can be used to get started on a new visitor center. In addition, when congressional appropriators sought to defund SLSDC in 2016, Schumer successfully fought to reverse the cut and restored the agency’s funding.