Senator Chuck Schumer visits Oswego, advocates federal loan for local rail lines

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) appeared in Oswego earlier this week to announce his plan to revitalize the Port of Oswego.

Schumer announced his three-pronged plan at a press conference Monday, Feb. 18, where he was joined by Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen and Jonathon Daniels, the executive director of the port, and several members of Oswego County legislature.

In a press release following the conference, Schumer said he believes that his plan will allow the port to meet future shipping demands, increase its productivity and preserve its important role in the Central New York economy.

The Port of Oswego popularity has increased in recent years, as it is the only deep-water port on the U.S. shores of Lake Ontario. The port’s location allows access to it from any international port.

Schumer’s plan first urges the Federal Railroad Administration to provide a $1.5 million loan to the port through its Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program. The loan money could be used to upgrade rail lines along the docks, which, according to the press release, has deteriorated to the point it may need to be shut down.

Schumer said in the conference that the railroad along the docks had not undergone any major rehabilitation since it was opened in 1963.

“The fact that the Port of Oswego’s rail line, a critical link between the port and local supply chains, has been left to decay is unacceptable, and the Federal Railroad Administration should immediately provide funding to revamp this crucial one mile of rail,” Schumer said in the statement.

Schumer’s plan also calls for the transfer of the surplus size forklift to the port that can better handle surplus size materials, such as aluminum. Schumer urged the federal government to transfer one such forklift through the port through a surplus equipment program.

Schumer also announced support for the Harbor Maintenance Act of 2013, which would unlock funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the port and maintain operations.

Schumer said in the release that the proposal would have economic benefits for Central New York.

“I am supporting a proposal to provide federal funds to dredge the Port of Oswego so that the numerous cargo vessels that come through each day can continue to pump over one billion dollars into the local economy each year,” Schumer said.

The Port of Oswego has nearly 120 vessels and more than one million tons of cargo moving through its site on an annual basis.