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More trucks crossing Ogdensburg bridge

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OGDENSBURG — It isn’t spring yet, but at the Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge, there are signs of a welcome thaw.

Though total bridge crossings continue to increase, the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority board of directors received news that truck traffic across the span rose for the second straight month.

In February, 5,844 trucks crossed the bridge, up from 5,308 in the same month in 2012, a 10 percent increase. In January, truck crossings rose to 6,452 from 5,593 the previous year, a 15 percent increase. For the authority’s fiscal year, which ends at the end of this month, truck crossings are up 2 percent so far, from 65,233 to 66,577.

Frederick S. Morrill, the OBPA’s deputy executive director, attributed that increase to more vibrant business at the port.

“I think that they are driven by our business with Bunge,” he said.

In January, Bunge ETGO of St. Louis signed a contract to store up to 10,000 tons of Canadian-grown canola meal at the St. Lawrence River facility. The meal is the primary ingredient in livestock feed, but also is used in oils and food products. The product is being shipped out by truck.

For several years, the number of trucks crossing the bridge has remained steady — or declined.

The increase could be a sign that the north country’s economy is beginning to perk up.

Wade A. Davis, the authority’s executive director, said bridge traffic was at its busiest in a decade.

“Definitely, this is the highest in the last 10 years,” he said.

Automobile traffic across the bridge increased every month this fiscal year compared with the previous year. In February, 45,480 cars crossed the bridge, up from 41,259 last year — a 10 percent increase.

In total, 75,913 more vehicles than last year have crossed the bridge this year, leading to an increase in toll revenue. The authority so far has collected $2,255,955 in tolls this year — $126,203, or almost 6 percent, more than the $2,129,753 budgeted.

The authority hopes the increase in traffic will lead to funding for more than $100 million in repairs needed on the bridge, which include replacing the approach span.

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