MONTVILLE – The company behind a planned road salt distribution facility on the Thames River said it envisions the site becoming a hub for other cargo in eastern Connecticut, and a link in the supply chain supporting offshore wind construction efforts planned for the New London State Pier.
New Haven-based Gateway Terminal – which operates State Pier and the Port of New Haven – was approved last week to develop the former site of the AES Thames Cogeneration power plant and WestRock corrugated packaging plant into a road salt distribution center, which would use an existing pier on the Thames River in Montville to bring in road salt by barge for contractors and municipalities to use across eastern Connecticut.
Matthew Satnick and Philippe DeMontigny, joint CEOs of Gateway parent company Enstructure, told CT Examiner that Gateway’s plans for the site extend beyond road salt, explaining that the site’s access to the river, roads and a railway make it an ideal location to serve other industries in the region that are otherwise dependent on trucks – including salt, aggregates, lumber and other forest products.
The company also said it believes the facility can provide services that complement the turbine assembly work at the New London State Pier. In 2019, Gateway was chosen to operate the pier as it undergoes a $250 million renovation to support the assembly of offshore wind projects scheduled to start construction in the Atlantic Ocean next year.
“We believe this facility can play an important role for the offshore wind industry by providing a variety of support services, such as transloading scour stone to be used in turbine foundations and mooring of survey and/or support vessels,” Satnick and DeMontigny said in an email responding to questions from CT Examiner.
Gateway said it hosted a support vessel in June for a safety inspection at the Montville terminal, which is already “open for business.” Construction of the concrete pad that will be used for salt storage will begin soon and is expected to be completed before salt season picks up in the winter.
The project will involve building a 2.3-acre storage pad for the road salt on the west side of the railroad tracks, away from the river. The company then plans to fill the area on the other side of the railroad tracks – next to the river – to bring that area up to grade and prepare it for future uses. That includes new railroad spurs to help move materials between rail cars and barges, according to the company’s plans.
Montville Mayor Ronald McDaniel said he was looking forward to having the property redeveloped and put back to use.
McDaniel said Commercial Development Company – which owns the property through a holding company – needed to complete an extensive cleanup before anyone could use the site. He said Gateway was the first company to come to the town with a proposal to redevelop the property.
“It’s gonna be a lot easier for me to get salt this winter, that’s for sure,” McDaniel said. “Instead of driving to Providence or New Haven.”
Gateway, which operates a major salt distribution business out of the Port of New Haven, said that it did not see a “significant difference” in trucks coming from eastern Connecticut to pick up salt from New Haven last winter.
DRVN, which supplied salt to eastern Connecticut out of the State Pier starting in 2014, was pushed off the pier to make way for the redevelopment. Gateway said it believes most of the shortfall left by DRVN’s absence was supplied out of Providence.
Gateway said it has been planning for the Montville facility since leasing the property from Missouri-based holding company Uncasville, LLC, about a year ago. The company is registered to St. Louis developer Tom Roberts, who owns Commercial Development Company.
“We look forward to addressing this need in the market from Montville and bringing this business back to Connecticut,” Gateway said.