For residents in the North Country, the Ogdensburg Bridge provides a gateway to Canada and its many tourist destinations. But the bridge that 750,000 cars travel across each year is beginning to show its age. Barry Wygel takes a look at what the bridge needs to stay in working order.
OGDENSBURG, N.Y. -- It's a landmark in the North Country. Not only for its visuals, but for its importance to the economy.
"It allows over $4 billion of goods to come into the North Country," said Wade Davis, executive director of the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority.
But a recent inspection found that the Ogdensburg Prescott International Bridge is in need of serious repairs.
"Overall, it needs about $100 million," said Davis.
The bulk of the work involves repainting the mile and a half bridge. The original lead based paint is deteriorating and must be replaced in a safe manner to protect the environment. The new paint will help prevent more corrosion of the steel.
"In addition we need about $39 million in steel," said Davis.
Bridge officials are also looking for $900,000 to study cables on the bridge and determine their condition. If the study finds work needs to be done, it could tack on an additional $5 million to the project. Officials have a plan for tackling these massive projects.
"It's not something you do all at once. It's something you do in a phased approach. What we've done is busted it up into phases," said Davis.
The Bridge and Port Authority has begun reaching out to state and federal authorities looking for money to complete the projects that are needed to keep this bridge in working order.
"We submitted an application recently to the New York State STEP program, which is the Strategic Transportation Enhancement Program for $15 million dollars," said Davis.
Even though the bridge connects the United States and Canada, help won't be coming from across the border.
"It's a U.S. built bridge, so the entire thing was built by the U.S. company, so there is no Canadian counterpart," said Davis.
Bridge officials say they are optimistic that money will come through from either state or federal sources, and that the bridge will remain open.
Bridge officials also say they do not plan on raising toll fees to pay for the projects. Tolls have remained flat on the bridge for the past four years.