Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed 2015 spending plan includes a sizeable amount of money for upgrades to the Port of Oswego.
In his recent combined State of the State agenda and budget plan, Cuomo pledges $65 million to upgrade the state’s infrastructure network, part of what helped build upstate’s economy decades ago.
"From Albany to Oswego to Syracuse to the Port of Ogdensburg to the Binghamton rail yard, you have to be able to move goods in and out," Cuomo said. "And this investment will help make it possible."
Nearly two-thirds of that money, $40 million, is destined for the Port of Oswego on the shore of Lake Ontario and rail yards in Binghamton and Syracuse.
From the words of the governor's office:
$40 million to the Port of Oswego to link with the Port of New York and creating additional intermodal rail yards in Syracuse and Binghamton. Such improvements will reduce truck traffic on downstate highways, increase existing export activity, build small and medium sized enterprise export capacity in upstate, and expand efforts of regional service providers.
That's if the proposal survives budget negotiations and is approved by the legislature.
Zelko Krinicich, director of the Port of Oswego, says the upgrades would connect his hub with shipping depots downstate – and yards in between – and increase volume.
"Large yards that can handle these things are unit trains, which could then basically take cargo containers down to New York, or export them out to Canada," he said.
He says being able to handle more volume will reduce operating costs and boost profits at the port.
"I think the multiplying affect will be tremendous. Let’s be honest, it isn’t going to happen overnight, but it should be exponential growth," he said.
Businesses along the shipping lines could benefit, too, he says.
"These businesses can compete worldwide on the export market," he said. "That’s huge."
Business at the Port of Oswego has been growing in recent years. The canal system is seeing a resurgence, but contributing even more to growth, rail traffic coming through the port is up. It’s become a hub for grain, salt, heating oil and aluminum.