State Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, deserves praise for securing a $200,000 state grant to allow dredging to begin at the Port of Ogdensburg.
Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority officials for years have been expressing concern about the increasing amount of silt buildup on the St. Lawrence River bottom at its docks. Year after year, river currents bring more silt to settle in the area of the docks, making it increasingly difficult for ships to easily dock and forcing port customers to carry lighter loads, which increases their costs.
With the port dredged, ships may carry heavier loads, which allows their operators to not have to make so many trips to the port to deliver their goods. That will decrease their shipping costs and make the city’s port more competitive.
OBPA officials are cautiously optimistic that a deeper port that poses lower shipping costs for its customers will result in an increase in business at the port.
Even if that does not happen, however, lowering costs for the port’s existing customers is still a good thing.
The port currently supports 70 jobs. An increase in business would result in more jobs, in addition to the jobs to be created by the dredging project.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was authorized last year to conduct a feasibility study for the dredging project, and is expected to make its recommendations known soon.
We hope that at some point the Corps of Engineers is tapped to come up with a permanent solution to prevent silt buildup at the port’s docks and alleviate the need for future dredging in order to keep the port viable.