Oswego (WSYR-TV) – There’s a new push for federal funding to make sure the Port of Oswego can stay on top of shipping demands. U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is calling for loans to help upgrade the railroads along the dock.
Two years ago, 40,000 tons of aluminum was shipped into the Port of Oswego. This year, they’re preparing for 100,000 tons. Moving forward, they need a specialized fork truck to handle the large shipments.
The port is being marketed to companies in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Tennessee. That means they also need a reliable railroad. The rails were put in back in 1963. A decade ago, no cars came through. Now, there are about a thousand a year.
But now, the tracks are in disrepair. There are two main problems. In some areas, the tracks are too wide so cars can slip off the track. In other areas, they’re uneven and can cause cars to tilt.
Senator Charles Schumer says he’ll ask the Federal Railroad Administration for $1.5-million to fix the tracks.
“The port needs to be modernized if it is going to keep up as a reliable supply chain for business in Central New York and this means jobs. Not only jobs here at the port, but for all the companies, agricultural, aluminum, and other types of companies that need a cheap transportation route, so they can continue to compete,” Senator Schumer said.
“What we don't want is some type of catastrophic failure in our operation, which forces us to shut down a certain portion of our activities and turn those jobs away,” explained Port of Oswego Authority Executive Dircetor Jonathan Daniels.
The Senator will also ask for money to dredge at the Port of Oswego. The problem now is that there is so much silt on the bottom that the larger ships are hitting the bottom if they carry too much cargo. One company told us that they lose about 1,000 tons of cargo with every shipment.
Schumer is pushing legislation to unlock funding for dredging, known as the Harbor Maintenance Act. Meanwhile, if a loan to fix the rail lines is approved, the Senator said rail usage could go up 50 percent.