Diverse Cargoes at State Pier is Common Sense

State Pier as operated under Logistec


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To the Editor:

The long term consequences and costs of the CT Port Authority’s plan to redevelop State Pier in New London are being overlooked.  

The capacity and flexibility of the current two pier design provides competitive advantages that will be lost by filling 7 acres of deep water between the piers.  

In this 2004 article from The Day, New England Shipping Co. Vice President Joe Ciccia explained the real dollar value of being able to dock two ships at once at State Pier. 

New London — For the first time since the state completed renovations at Adm. Harold E. Shear State Pier last fall, two ships docked there at the same time this weekend. The two vessels, both carrying cargo from South America, overlapped in their visits from Friday to Saturday night. The Department of Transportation’s recent repairs to the western edge of the pier — a side that had previously gone unused — allowed for the simultaneous docking. The owners of the two ships derived the most benefit from last weekend’s double docking, according to Joe Ciccia, vice president of New England Shipping Co., the ships’ agent. Because the ships run at a cost of $30,000 to $45,000 per day, he said, the owners save money if they do not have to wait for another ship to unload before pulling into harbor. “If the Pelican Arrow had to wait three days before she could even discharge, they would lose a tremendous amount of money,” Ciccia said Monday.

Please note, David Pohorylo, President of New England Shipping Co., is a member of the CT Port Authority Board of Directors. 

Creating a purpose-built port focused on the shipment of one product will further reduce the flexibility and resilience of State Pier.

Aside from continuing to ship steel, copper, lumber, and salt the CPA should focus on adding cargos such as “sand and gravel, pulp and paper, water, containerized trash and perhaps even automobiles”  at State Pier as recommended by a previous State report.

The report continues

State Pier should be operated as efficiently as possible and take advantage if its rail connections in order to expand its market reach. The facility needs to efficiently accommodate cargo movements, storage, and multimodal throughput to assure quick vessel turnaround times. Maximizing the flexibility of the port facility is the key to enhanced utilization.

Common sense dictates that shipping multiple cargos keeps all eggs from being in one basket. Multiple ship and barge berths allow the recommended flexibility, which will allow efficiency (cost savings) described earlier by Joe Ciccia.  

The CT Port Authority’s current wind centric plan will forfeit the competitive advantage of State Pier’s direct rail access, further reducing flexibility of the facility. Not only will most of the rail at State Pier be removed, but the port’s sole focus- wind- will not utilize rail.  Rep. Joe Courtney saw the value and need to connect State Pier to an upgraded freight rail system in order to spur economic development, and move cargo off the over-congested roads.  The Port was the impetus and terminus for the $12.8 million freight rail upgrade which received $8 million of state/federal support.  A 2013 article, explains

Courtney said the timing of the state’s funding is critical because the rail lines will match the state’s funding through a federal investment tax credit that is due to expire at the end of the year. 

New London’s port is underutilized, the congressman [Joe Courtney] added, and investment in the rail system locally will make the region more attractive to cargo ship and freight companies, which he said will spur job growth and help secure southeastern Connecticut’s future.”  

The last point I will make is that the State Pier plan should maintain diversity not only in what it handles but also who it serves. An honest plan at State Pier will be inclusive. It will find a way to accommodate all the existing users, and wind. 

It will create opportunities for everyone in CT — especially Native American tribes just up the river and all the back-against-the-wall dairy farmers in the state. 

The plan will find a way to serve the people Hartford State Rep. Vargas stood up for 4 years ago — before the CT Port Authority existed — because this is America and anything is possible if you just try hard enough. Vargas said

Well, I want to join my colleagues in thanking you for your willingness to serve on the Port Authority, and I feel a personal connection. I had an uncle who was an administrator with the New York/New Jersey Port Authority for many years, retired now, and I think it’s exciting. I just wanted to — to mention that the greater Hartford area which Senator Doyle was talking about is home to one of the largest concentrations of West Indian community; a large, large community, mostly Jamaican, but from many other Caribbean islands. And they’ve been working very hard to try to establish and create between Connecticut and Jamaica, and make it a center of trade for the islands. And I wanted you to keep that in mind as you, in your role, you can try to move that agenda along.

We’re — we’re trying to — we’re working too with the Airport Authority trying to see if we can get direct flights between Hartford and Kingston, and people are very excited about that. And with such a huge community looking for products from the islands, it would be an ideal situation if we could move that along and it would have an economic impact on the state, and on the islands.

Kevin Blacker
Noank, CT