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Ogdensburg port road funding secured


OGDENSBURG — The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority received good news Friday — the $630,000 funding gap for an access road to its St. Lawrence River port was filled with state and local funding.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced $450,000 for the port access road, while the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency provided a $95,000 grant and the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency is expected to issue an $87,000 loan to cover the rest of the project’s $1.8 million cost.

“I am grateful for the governor’s leadership,” said state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton. “By taking a good look at this and making sure that the money was programmed over, we have made jobs our number one priority.”

Wade A. Davis, authority executive director, touted the benefits of the new access road.

“Funding for the port access road immediately creates jobs and economic opportunities for Northern New York, which would not exist otherwise,” he said. “The authority would like to thank Governor Cuomo, Empire State Development, the Regional Council and all parties who have assisted in the effort to fund this project, which is critical to generating economic opportunities for the north country.”

Robert O. McNeil, River Agency chairman, said the grant from his organization is part of $500,000 in funding that will be allotted this spring.

“We had to get this done because shipment season is here, and the road has to be built,” he said.

The authority is counting on $340 million in wind turbine components to pass over the new road this year on its way to two projects, the Marble River Wind Farm Project in Churubusco and the Green Mountain Power Project in Lowell, Vt. Mr. Davis previously said the project would mean an infusion of $870,000 in direct wages into the north country’s flaccid economy and 70 jobs created.

“I am grateful the senator and governor’s office cooperated to get this done,” said Mr. McNeil. “That road is going to haul a lot of cargo out of the port, and the current route is not enough to transport the cargo.”

In September 2010, the authority received $1.2 million from the state Department of Transportation for the access road as part of the Renew and Rebuild New York Transportation Bond Act of 2005.

In March, the authority approved a $1.8 million contract to construct the road, leaving around $630,000 in unmet need for the construction.

Earlier this month, OBPA officials asked the Empire State Development Corp. to divert $450,000 in competitive funding appropriated for bridge and track repair along the New York and Ogdensburg Railway.

However, the state was reluctant to reprogram the funds until the remaining $182,000 for the project was secured.

“I received a call saying they were looking to reprogram the money, but they wanted to know where the additional resources were going to come from,” said Ms. Ritchie. “I reached out to the RVRDA and asked if there was a way that they would look at funding the project because it was critical to jobs in the area.”

With the gap funds secured, the Empire State Development approved reprogramming of the funds slated for the railroad on the basis that the port access road would have a more immediate impact on the economy, according to a Friday press release.

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