Today, U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced that the Department of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee has approved $750,000 for the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority to repair a major international bridge linking rural New York State with Canada. Schumer and Gillibrand worked closely with members of the Appropriations Committee to include funding for the project in this year’s spending bill.
“The future of region’s economy and the continued operation of the Ogdensburg bridge are locked arm-in-arm together, so making this work is incredibly important,” Schumer said. “While this funding isn’t everything that’s needed, it is an important down payment on strong, stable, repaired bridge.”
“Especially in this difficult economy, investing in infrastructure is one of the smartest investments we can make to create jobs and keep our communities growing,” Senator Gillibrand said. “This spring, I saw firsthand how investment in the Ogdensburg bridge will help connect more businesses and workers, support job creation and long-term economic development for the North Country. This is a step I the right direction.”
The Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge has been serving the North Country since its completion in 1960. Each year, the bridge supports $1.4 billion in investments to American economy as consumers, entrepreneurs and businesspeople cross the bridge to do work and purchase goods. Over the last 40 years the bridge has undergone modest improvements but the toll of 500,000 vehicles traveling over the structure every year has taken its toll. In January, the Office the Attorney General released a report on the state of bridges in New York State and gave the bridge a score of 4.3/7, and just weeks ago news reports surfaced indicating that the bridge may only be in ‘fair to good’ condition. The continued deterioration of the bridge puts the thousands of people who use the bridge every day at risk and threatens to serve as a stumbling block to an economic recovery in the North Country.
The bridge is a 1 ½ mile long suspension bridge linking New York State and Canada in Northern New York State. The bridge is in need of improvements to replace the existing deteriorated steel deck structure, safety walks and railings. This project seeks assistance to complete all necessary structural repairs, including: deck replacement; elimination of raised safety walks; replacement of longitudinal stringers; replacement of bridge rail; and floorbeam repair. The project is estimated to create in excess of three hundred jobs annually for a three year period.
This spring, Schumer and Gillibrand both stood at the Ogdensburg Bridge with residents, elected officials and community business owners and pledged to secure funding to upgrade the bridge. They made the case that the bridge is essential to the economic development of the North Country and must be revitalized to improve commercial activity and keep residents safe. In April, Schumer acknowledged the uncertainty of the appropriations process but pledged to work towards securing significant funding for the project and today’s announcement is a step in that direction.
Now that the bill has been approved by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, it will be sent to the full Senate Appropriations Committee. Following approval by the Full Committee and the Senate, the bill will move towards Conference with the House and then to the President for signature.