OGDENSBURG — A multimillion-dollar project to build new grain bins at the Port of Ogdensburg has been completed, laying the groundwork for increased usage of the facility for the movement and storage of the agricultural commodity.
The port’s enhanced capacity to store and move grain through the region comes at a time when grain shipments along the St. Lawrence Seaway System are growing.
In October 2016, local and state officials in Ogdensburg announced a $2.6 million project to upgrade the port’s capacity to handle agricultural goods such as grain. Those improvements called for building two large grain storage bins, a new conveyor system, and improving rail capabilities in and out of the port.
Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority Executive Director Wade A. Davis said Friday that the grain bin project has been completed under budget for $2.2 million. He said the infrastructure upgrade could now play a key role in helping expand the port’s ability to handle, store and move agricultural commodities in and out of the northernmost region of the state.
“The grain bin project at the Port of Ogdensburg is now fully operational and presents the region with new opportunities for agriculture to buy and sell grains in bulk,” Mr. Davis said.
As a result, Mr. Davis said, two new grain bins have been added at the port, each holding 10 rail cars of grain. The capacity of each rail car is equivalent to three large trucks.
Mr. Davis said that grain is being brought into the port by train, stored, and then moved out by truck as needed. He said the new upgrades also allow for grain to be brought in by truck, or even by ship, if needed.
“As quantities increase, barges, then eventually a ship, as business grows,” Mr. Davis said.
Mr. Davis said the new grain bin storage system at the port is linked to the facility’s “flat-storage building.” A conveyor system automates the process of loading, unloading and storage.
“It is also scalable for vessels quantities, if needed in the future, and is situated adjacent to a second larger flat storage building at the port,” Mr. Davis said. “It is designed for one additional 10 rail car storage bin, and when business grows, it has two locations set aside for two larger 100 rail car bins.”
The port serves large scale and smaller farms throughout the region, according to Mr. Davis. He said for competitive reasons, he would prefer to not publicly identify the port’s current grain clients.
“The port continues to work with its existing customer base and through our public-private partnership with Ogdensburg Marketing and Logistics to secure large-scale customers for the grain bins,” Mr. Davis said. “The grain bin system is a great asset for the region and we look forward to its growth now that it is fully operational.”
The port’s enhanced capacity to store and move grain in and out of the region comes at a time when grain shipments along the St. Lawrence Seaway System are growing noticeably.
According to a recent report from the Marine Chamber of Commerce, U.S. grain shipments via the St. Lawrence Seaway from March 29 to Aug. 31 topped one million metric tons. The figure represents a 31 percent increase over the same period last year.
The so-called “grain rush” has helped boost overall cargo shipments on the St. Lawrence Seaway for the season to 21.4 million metric tons; a 4 percent increase over this time last year, according to officials.
“Total cargo shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway are now ahead of last year’s very strong shipping season,” said Bruce Burrows, president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce in a statement. “We anticipate this momentum to continue into fall as the new harvests head to market and other commodities benefit from the strength of the American economy.”
Officials also noted that increased grain shipments along the Seaway are partly due to the fact that the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway has become an alternative route to the U.S. Gulf, where grain export facilities are reaching capacity.
With a steady stream of inbound oceangoing traffic, there is growing capacity for so-called “back haul opportunities” that involve ships bringing grain back through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway for overseas destinations, after originally entering U.S. ports to drop off commodities like steel and other manufactured goods.
SOURCE: Watertown Daily News