By LARRY ROBINSON
Ogdensburg’s $7.5 million Paterson Street reconstruction project could help pave the way for a brighter future at the city’s port by linking the vital St. Lawrence River shipping passage to Route 37 across more than a mile of new roadway capable of carrying oversized vehicles and heavy tonnage.
The price tag for the road project comes mostly from the federal Surface, Accountable, Flexible and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users program. The city is contributing about $900,000 toward the project. Construction on Paterson Street began last month, after six years of planning, and is expected to be completed in August 2015.
Because the project is funded mostly by the federal government, the street repairs from the Canton Street junction to the port will meet federal road construction specifications. State Region 7 Department of Transportation spokesman Michael R. Flick said Paterson Street is considered part of the national highway system, and that the materials and standards used in reconstructing the street will be of a higher standard than those typically used for state and local road projects.
Some of the main difference in the federal construction requirements include the type of asphalt mix used, the density of the road itself and design aspects related shoulder width, according to Mr. Flick.
Wade A. Davis, executive director of the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority, said the Paterson Street rebuild will literally pave the way for heavier and oversized truckloads of goods to make their way to and from the city’s waterfront. He said for years truck traffic to the port has been limited because of the poor condition of Paterson Street.
“It maintains the capability of moving objects through the city to Route 37,” Mr. Davis said. “Paterson Street as it existed prior to being rebuilt would really limit the future of the port. Being able to move oversized and over-dimensioned cargo positions us for the future and prepares us for future economic activity.”
Ogdensburg City Manager John M. Pinkerton agrees that there is good reason to be excited about how a rebuilt and redesigned Paterson Street can benefit the north country economy. He said the new roadway fits hand in glove with a recent announcement from state Senator Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, that $200,000 in state funding has been secured to begin a dredging project at the Port of Ogdensburg,
When completed in several years, the deeper port waters will decrease drop-off times for cargo at the city’s 1,200-foot dock, and result in substantial costs savings to shippers who currently have to ferry their shipments to land in smaller vessels, according to the OBPA.
“It just gives us another arrow in our quiver to let manufacturers get their materials here at the lowest transportation cost,” Mr. Pinkerton said. “Having Paterson Street connect to the port gives us the ability to use the St. Lawrence River as a byway to get goods in and out of the city.
Mr. Pinkerton also pointed to expansion plans at the Ogdensburg International Airport as yet another indicator that the city’s economic future is looking brighter.
“I think we are coming to the threshold of having a renaissance here,” Mr. Pinkerton said.