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US Army Corps to look at whether Oswego's harbor should be deepened

Gino Geruntino
WRVO News (file photo)

The St. Lawrence Seaway that brings in shipping business to the Great Lakes is about 27 feet deep. In certain spots, the Port of Oswego and the channel leading up to it are only 25-21 feet deep. You may not think that a few extra feet matter, but Port of Oswego Authority Executive Director Bill Scriber says it could make a sizable impact. 

"As we are commercially growing the Port, we are looking at larger ships and we’re looking at more business opportunities," Scriber said. "By gaining the extra several feet in the harbor, that then allows us to load the full capacity of the ships, which makes it more commercially viable to come into the Port and also increasing new customers, which have the larger payload capacities to come into the Port."

Scriber says with more room in the harbor, the Port of Oswego could export larger quantities of items like grain. That would complement the state's effort to modernize the port's grain shipping operations. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced that New York is investing $15 million  to build a grain storage facility at the Port that will increase the amount of commodities like corn and soybeans that flow through it.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) says in all, the new business opportunities for a deeper Port could amount to millions of new dollars for central New York.

Dave Schulenberg with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says their study will focus on net costs and benefits.

"We really need to understand in detail how the harbor is being used, how it could be used if it were deepened in one or more sections, and ultimately how the economics could improve in support of the national economy if an investment like that were to be made," Schulenberg said.

The study is expected to take 9-12 months. If it does endorse deepening the Port of Oswego, Schulenberg says the project would take several years to complete.

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.