Transportation Goal 4: concentrate freight and manufacturing development and shipping at prioritized intermodal sites to support sustainable business development The underutilized regional rail corridor has the capacity to support affordable freight movements while being more environmentally friendly than alternative transportation modes. Additional study will determine whether the current marketplace is sufficient to support rail expansion. While air travel is not the most energy-efficient or environmentally friendly mode of travel, the GHG inventory showed that, due to the relatively small current volume of aviation activity in the North Country, the combined GHG emissions from aviation, rail, and maritime activity account for only 2 percent of the regional total (E & E 2012). Supporting the growth of facilities and sites that have the potential to offer more efficient shipping options by rail, road, and air will be promoted as an implementation strategy to achieving greener freight shipping. For example, the juxtaposition of commercial activity, a rail line, and an interstate road adjacent to the Plattsburgh Airport offers long-term potential to support inter-modal freight movements.
The Port of Ogdensburg, the only U.S. port along the St. Lawrence Seaway in the North Country region, is positioned to handle increasing maritime shipping volumes. The port’s multimodal capabilities are also a long-term asset for further development, as the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority also owns a short line railroad that connects the port with the CSX line, and the nearby Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge connects Route 37 with Route 416 to Ottawa, Canada.
The NCREDC Plan emphasizes the strategic importance of cultivating increased trading volumes with Canada (NCREDC 2010), citing the region’s border crossings at Alexandria Bay, Ogdensburg, Massena, and Champlain. From an environmental perspective, efforts to decrease the amount of idling vehicles at border crossings are desirable, as are efforts to increase trade between the North Country region and neighboring Ontario and Quebec, where the time and distance required to deliver products is minimal. However, from an infrastructure perspective, increased Canadian-American trade would involve increased truck volumes on North Country bridges and highways, resulting in increased repair and maintenance costs. If increased activity is primarily between Canada and areas in the U.S. beyond the North Country, this region would bear the load of being travelled through without any of the benefits associated with stopping in the region, such as local sales, and would need to address heightened costs of infrastructure and service maintenance.
While the North Country region is not a buyer/consumer of the locomotives and railcars made by Bombardier, or the train control products and systems of New York Air Brake, or the buses of Nova Bus, these North Country companies support public transportation services across the United States. These transportation equipment clusters should be included in any regional branding efforts that identify and/or promote the region’s sustainable exports.
When locally produced foods and other goods do not need to be transported out of the region, fewer vehicle miles are traveled between production and consumption, resulting in lower overall transportation costs, less fuel consumption, and lower air emissions. Finding ways to calculate the associated transportation impacts may help producers, planners, and economic development staff as they seek to promote increased local sales.
North Country Region Sustainability Plan