With less than $1 million remaining of $255.5 million of state and private funding for the New London State Pier redevelopment, it’s not clear how any additional costs will be paid for as crews race to finish the project in time for staging offshore wind construction scheduled for next spring.
Representatives for Gov. Ned Lamont did not respond to several requests for comment on whether he would support additional funding if it was needed to complete the State Pier renovations.
But his Republican challenger Bob Stefanowski said in a written statement that he would support providing the necessary funding to complete the project.
“However it needs to be a shared commitment from all three parties. Not just the taxpayers of Connecticut footing the bill, as has been the case so far,” Stefanowski said. “Connecticut needs a leader to stand up and say ‘enough.’”
Just $334,138.29 was available for completing the project when the Connecticut Port Authority Board voted last month to move $3.7 million in lease payments out of escrow to cover escalating costs officials pinned on unexpected problems encountered during construction.
Port Authority Board Chair David Kooris acknowledged at the board’s Oct. 17 meeting that there could still be more unexpected issues that would increase construction costs.
Kooris said the authority doesn’t have access to more funds for the project, though the authority later told CT Examiner that it would be premature to say there isn’t more flexibility in the budget to make more funding available like they did with the New England Central Railroad lease payments.
Asked if the Eversource/Ørsted offshore wind partnership would consider providing more funding if it was needed to complete the State Pier renovations, Justin May, a spokesman for the partnership, said the companies are hopeful the project will continue on budget, and will work closely with the Port Authority.
“Throughout the redevelopment project, Ørsted and Eversource have worked diligently with the state and the [Port Authority] to provide flexibility and consider project delays that weren’t expected,” May said. “For instance, we have agreed to adjust previous deadlines and milestones to accommodate unforeseen circumstances that impacted the overall project.”
Despite the hurdles, delays and funding concerns, both the Port Authority and the offshore wind partnership say they are still on track to use the pier for the construction of South Fork Wind – a 132 megawatt offshore wind farm being built off the coast of Rhode Island.
According to the Port Authority, the heavy lift platform being built on the northeast end of the pier will be complete by Feb. 28. That platform will allow the pier to be used for staging wind turbines.
“Our ability to deliver South Fork Wind from New London State Pier while meeting our timeline has not changed, and we will continue to work with our partners at the CT Port Authority as we move forward,” May said.