After two and half years, a cargo ship can finally pull into the Port of Rochester again.
Essroc's cargo ship, the Stephen B. Roman, comes into the Rochester and Oswego ports from Ontario, Canada to deliver its cement supplies. For the last couple of years, because of sediment build-up, the ship had not been able to make its way through the Genesee River here.
"The marine mode of transportation is the most cost-effective mode, and to be able to bring cement in bulk, as we do here in large amounts, keeps the cost very competitive, competitive cost for cement for all the projects that happen within Rochester and the region as well. It's very important that we're able to keep this waterway open," said Stephen Murch, Essroc.
The federal government has paid for dredging in the past, but Congresswoman Louise Slaughter says some of the money for those projects recently has gone elsewhere. Last year, Essroc picked up most of the $1.5 million tab itself to get the dredging done. Slaughter is hoping to change that for the years to come.
"I'm on two pieces of legislation to do that. One is to require that all the money for harbor maintenance be spent for harbor maintenance, because they've been raiding those funds. And second, that we want 40 percent of the harbor maintenance goes to the smaller ports. Right now, most of the money goes to maintain the larger ones and they're important to our economy, but so is this," said Rep. Slaughter, D-25th District.
Dredging is just one part of the work going on here at the Port of Rochester. The city is also moving ahead with its other development plans for a marina and housing down here. It hopes to finish Phase One of that development project by 2015.
Leaders say dredging is important for all kinds of projects down at the port. The Army Corps of Engineers that does the work says it will need to be done again next year.
"Are you optimistic that this funding will come back when it's needed again?"
"That's up to Congress. They control the purse strings. I know there's been an awful lot of interest in it. We're always hopeful but we serve the government," said Mike Asquith, dredging program manager, Army Corps of Engineers.