MASSENA, N.Y. (WWNY) - Congresswoman Elise Stefanik touted $6 million she won for the Seaway International Bridge. The trouble is: the money is going somewhere else. It’s the latest twist in a political saga that has made the bridge in Massena infamous.
Stefanik has been taking the heat for not beating back Republican attacks on $1.5 million in funding for the Seaway International Bridge.
It was then dropped from President Biden’s original $1.9 trillion rescue bill. When 7 News asked Monday, her communications director, Karoline Leavitt, pointed out Stefanik in the past has won more than $75 million for the seaway itself “including $6 million for the Seaway International Bridge that she delivered with former DOT Secretary Elaine Chao.”
But there’s a problem. That money will never get to the bridge. Instead, it’s for a visitor center 5 miles away at the Eisenhower Locks. That’s what Chao said the $6 million was for when she came there a year-and-a-half ago.
“This new center will serve as a cornerstone for tourism in the north country region of New York,” Chao said at the time.
Stefanik’s office correctly points out the bridge funding was dropped in the Senate, not the House. But that was after Stefanik had voted down the bill in the first place and after Republicans dubbed the bridge in Massena “Schumer’s Bridge.”
All of it has basically left locals scratching their heads.
“It’s a shame that it’s gotten all that attention, I mean, adverse attention. We really need that bridge,” said Steven O’Shaughnessy, Massena town supervisor.
Traffic and, in turn, tolls have plunged on the bridge ever since the Canadian-U.S. border was closed to all but essential traffic.
It’s not just the bridge that has been impacted by the pandemic. There’s been a big impact on the economy in St. Lawrence County and Akwesasne.
That’s why everyone is waiting for the border to open. Stefanik’s office points out the Congresswoman is a strong advocate for a safe re-opening of the border.
Note: after this story appeared on our website, Leavitt clarified her earlier statement by saying, “During her last term in Congress, Representative Stefanik delivered more than $75 million in federal appropriations for the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, including $6 million that she announced with former DOT Secretary Elaine Chao.