SCHUMER: OGDENSBURG HARBOR IS IN DIRE NEED OF DREDGING; SENATOR PUSHES FOR IMMEDIATE FED FUNDS TO DEEPEN OGDENSBURG HARBOR, WHICH WAS LAST DREDGED IN 1984; DEEPENING HARBOR WILL DECREASE SHIPPING COSTS AND UNLOCK NEWBUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE PORT OF OGDENSBURG
Lack Of Dredging Over The Years Has Resulted In Unnecessary Congestion, Increased Handling Costs And Lost Business Opportunities
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Which Determined Federal Interest In Dredging Back In 2011, Is Nearing Completion Of Feasibility Study; Schumer Urges Feds To Expedite Final Approval
Schumer: Fed Funds Are Needed To Keep Ogdensburg Harbor Clear For Business
During a visit to St. Lawrence County, U.S. Senator Charles E Schumer today pledged his support for critical federal funds to dredge the Ogdensburg Harbor. Last dredged in 1984, the Ogdensburg Harbor is in desperate need of deepening, which will ease congestion, reduce shipping costs and unlock new business opportunities. Schumer said that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is close to completing its feasibility study that was initiated in 2011 and the project’s next step will be final approval from the Assistant Secretary for Civil Works, making this a critical point in the long-awaited project. 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 St. Lawrence Seaway will continue to see the benefits associated with Ogdensburg Harbor in the years to come.
“The Ogdensburg Harbor and the Port of Ogdensburg has been a major hub of job creation and economic activity for generations and keeping this critical channel navigable and maintained will mean continued commercial activity and growth. That is why I am urging the Army Corps to expedite final approval that will sign, seal and deliver the funds needed to begin the design and implementation phases critical to deepening this harbor for the first time in more than three decades,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. “Keeping this harbor dredged will not only clear the way for commerce, it will also clear the way for new local jobs and economic development.”
Schumer explained that the Ogdensburg Harbor is located at the mouth of the Oswegatchie River and is the only U.S. port on the St. Lawrence Seaway and is the closest U.S. Seaway Port to Europe. It is also the northernmost port in New York. Owned and operated by the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, the Port of Ogdensburg 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 105k tons. Overall, Schumer explained that the port generates more than $4 million annually in direct revenue. It also supports 31 direct, indirect and induced jobs that produce over $2 million per year in personal income. On top of this, Schumer said the Ogdensburg Harbor is also a benefit to the region because 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. That’s why Schumer said it is concerning the harbor was last dredged in 1984. Schumer said that while the harbor requires dredging on an infrequent basis, more than three decades of neglect on the federal level has resulted in lost business opportunities at the port because the harbor’s main dock inaccessible for Seaway vessels. This is causing unnecessary congestion, increased handling costs and lost business opportunities. Schumer explained that the harbor has been seeking funding to dredge the port for years, and it is high-time the Army Corps of Engineers provide this much-needed funding.
Schumer is therefore urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide the federal funding share needed to dredge the port under the Army’s Civil Work’s Continuing Authorities Program, section 107 of the of the River and Harbor Act of 1960. In 2011, the Army Corps initiated a feasibility study and determined that there was federal interest in dredging the port. That feasibility study is currently in its final public review stage. The next critical step includes final sign-off from the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, who directs all aspects of the U.S Army Corps of Engineers’ Civil Works program. The total cost of deepening the harbor to sea level, which is 27 feet, is estimated to cost $7.3 million, $2.7 of which would come from the federal government. Schumer said final approval from the Assistant Secretary would provide this $2.7 million in federal funds and allow the design and implementation phase to get started. The Army Corps recommends the deepening a second berth to 27 feet, which is seaway depth, with a channel width of 305 feet based on the cost benefit ratio and economic analyses.
This project comes at an opportune time for the Port of Ogdensburg, which, in 2015, received $10 million dollars in New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) funding to extend its Dock Wall, creating a second vessel berth at seaway depth by adding 500 feet of dock to the existing 1,200 feet, square up the port’s dock face and expand storage facilities. Taken together, the dredging, dock upgrades and storage expansion would enable two or more ships to come to port and unload their cargo and enable over $2 million in synergies of done concurrently. Currently, the port can handle only one ship at a time.
Schumer said that, if funded, the dredging of the harbor would increase capacity, reduce costs and expand and diversify traffic at the port. Without deepening the harbor, continued losses of channel depth would result in increased transportation costs between $45,000 and $79,000 annually or, at worst, the closing of the port to commercial traffic. According to the port, 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. Schumer therefore said this dredging project must get underway, as the Ogdensburg Harbor plays a key role in the regional economy and 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.
Schumer was joined by Wade Davis, Executive Director of the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, along with Port employees.
A copy of Schumer’s letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works):
Dear Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy:
I write to express my support for the dredging 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 once the NEPA Public Review period is complete, the dredging will receive your swift approval so that the design and implementation phase can move forward.
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 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, sediment backlog and shallow waters at the harbor has made the port’s main dock inaccessible for Seaway vessels. This causes unnecessary congestion, increased handling costs and lost business opportunities. Without dredging the harbor, continued losses of channel depth would result in increased transportation costs of between $45,000 and $79,000 annually or at worst, the closing of the port to commercial traffic.
The United States Army Corps of Engineers’ feasibility study proposes navigation improvements by deepening and widening the Lower East Channel and Lower Basin to 27 feet. If funded, the dredging of the harbor would increase capacity, reduce costs and expand and diversify traffic at the port.
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
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