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Competition “fierce” for OBPA bridge funds

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OGDENSBURG — While the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority awaits decisions from the state and federal government on the fate of $27 million in grants to repair its Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge, officials have been warned to not get their hopes too high.

The field of applicants, Executive Director Wade A. Davis told his board Wednesday, is “extremely competitive.”

The authority has applied for $15 million from the state Department of Transportation’s Strategic Transportation Enhancement Program and, in May, put in for a $12 million grant — with a $1 million local match — from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery program.

Mr. Davis recently sat in on a telephone conference call with DOT officials and the office of U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., to discuss the authority’s grant prospects.

They’re tough, he was told.

“The competition is fierce,” Mr. Davis said.

Overall, the OBPA figures it will cost $105 million to repair and paint the span and its approaches, replacing its deck and stringers over the course of a multi-year process.

Mr. Davis said the state and federal grant applications are the latest pieces of what he calls “a mosaic of funding sources” that the authority is always pursuing to pay for bridge repairs.

It’s an ongoing process.

“We’re always working to see what’s out there,” said board Chairman Samuel J. LaMacchia.

Noting that past successful grant recipients fortified their initial applications with matching amounts of up to 50 percent of the total project cost, Mr. Davis is confident that the OBPA’s $1 million match won’t hurt.

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