WASHINGTON — If Congress had granted Rep. William L. Owens his request last year for $171.5 million to build a new border station on Wellesley Island, that would have been an earmark. Pork, in some circles.
This year, the border station is back, with two differences. It will cost about $2 million more, and it's not pork anymore: the White House requested it.
Because the Obama administration requested the money in its fiscal 2012 budget, the border station that officials have been awaiting for several years is more likely to be built than if a member of Congress sought the money; Congress generally rubber-stamps administration requests for such projects, although the pressure is on Congress this year for across-the-board spending reductions.
The Obama administration requested $173,565,000 for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. That would be enough to complete the project, said Sean Magers, a spokesman for Mr. Owens, D-Plattsburgh.
Officials at the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority have been pushing for the project, which they say will cut down on travel time for commercial and passenger traffic and make the crossing more attractive for trucks. They say the project has been needed since staffing increased dramatically following the 9-11 attacks.
"This is good news for both tourism to the region and for truck traffic over the bridge," W. Howard Kelly, director of the Capital Corridor Trade and Tourism Initiative of the TIBA, said in an e-mail.
Mr. Kelly said he and Robert G. Horr III, executive director of the TIBA, learned about the funding in a meeting with Mr. Owens on Tuesday in Washington.
A year ago, the project appeared unlikely anytime soon. The Obama administration had turned away the federal General Services Administration's request for funding, and the Homeland Security Department's decision to push ahead with a new port of entry in a remote location in Vermont was generating negative headlines. National priorities seemed directed more at the Mexican border.
Mr. Owens appeared before a House Budget subcommittee last year, urging lawmakers to include the project in fiscal 2011. But spending bills for the fiscal year fell apart in partisan divisions, and earmarks were casualties.
At that time, Mr. Horr said he doubted the administration would request the funding for fiscal 2012 either.
Bridge authority officials have not been swept off their feet by the proposed station design, and they have said a structure that better fits into the distinctive Thousand Islands environment might be built for less.
"We hope that if the project goes forward that GSA will take another look at their design and construction options so that it will more in keeping aesthetically with the region as well as less expensive to build," Mr. Kelly wrote in an e-mail to the Times.