Their ship’s come in

New plan calls for in­vest­ment in state’s ports

New Haven Register (Sunday) (New Haven, CT) - - NEWS - By Bill Cum­mings bcum­mings@ct­

HART­FORD — State port of­fi­cials want to rein­vest in Con­necti­cut’s deep-wa­ter ports and small har­bors, long a for­got­ten stepchild among the state’s in­fra­struc­ture pri­or­i­ties, to boost eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, cre­ate jobs and lure cruise ships.

The Con­necti­cut Port Au­thor­ity last week re­leased a five-year plan for the state’s large ports in Bridge­port, New Haven and New Lon­don, and the smaller ports in cities such as Mil­ford, Nor­walk and Stam­ford.

“Con­necti­cut’s ports and har­bors rep­re­sent tremen­dous un­tapped eco­nomic po­ten­tial,” said Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy, who signed leg­is­la­tion sev­eral years ago cre­at­ing a statewide port au­thor­ity.

“This Mar­itime Strat­egy will help en­sure that we make tar­geted, smart in­vest­ments in our marine in­fra­struc­ture that will help strengthen our coastal com­mu­ni­ties and cre­ate jobs,” Mal­loy said.

Evan Matthews, port au­thor­ity ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said the state’s ports are be­gin­ning to at­tract in­ter­est af­ter a die off in ac­tiv­ity fol­low­ing the Great Re­ces­sion that be­gan in 2007.

“The mar­ket­place is be­gin­ning to no­tice that the state of Con­necti­cut now has a fo­cused ap­proach to grow­ing the mar­itime econ­omy,” Mathews said.

“It is crit­i­cally im­por­tant that we build on this mo­men­tum and this fiveyear strat­egy sends a clear sig­nal that Con­necti­cut un­der­stands the value of its mar­itime as­sets and is com­mit­ted to in­te­grat­ing its ports and small har­bors with the state’s trans­porta­tion sys­tem,” Mathews added.

The five-year plan fo­cuses on the State Pier in New Lon­don, which is be­ing retro­fit­ted to serve as a ma­te­rial stag­ing and ship­ping point for off­shore wind power projects near Block Is­land. The state is seek­ing a new op­er­a­tor for the pier and has al­ready in­vested $15 to re­vi­tal­ize the fa­cil­ity.

Other por­tions of the plan pledge to build more com­mer­cial vol­ume in the state’s un­der­uti­lized ports, fund needed dredg­ing op­er­a­tions, sup­port smaller ports and har­bors and de­vise ways to lessen high­way truck traf­fic by mov­ing spe­cific goods through the ports.

The port au­thor­ity also plans to fo­cus on en­hanc­ing ferry ser­vice in Bridge­port and New Lon­don and work with cruise ser­vice op­er­a­tors and book­ing agents to bring more cruise ships to Con­necti­cut.

The plan does not make spe­cific prom­ises for fund­ing or back any project, other than ef­forts al­ready un­der way to im­prove the State Pier.

Scott Bates, CPA chair­man, said the port plan is a guid­ing doc­u­ment for the com­ing years.

“The five-year strat­egy we are de­liv­er­ing builds on that foun­da­tion and pri­or­i­tizes our goals for our part­ners, stake­hold­ers and pol­icy mak­ers,” Bates said.

The plan notes that in 2017 over 2.2 mil­lion met­ric tons of non-con­tainer­ized goods were im­ported through Con­necti­cut’s deep wa­ter ports, in­clud­ing petroleum prod­ucts brought into New Haven and Bridge­port.

Not re­ces­sion proof

Bates said port of­fi­cials are also con­sid­er­ing how to con­nect rail ser­vice and the ports.

“We see po­ten­tial in places like the Nau­gatuck Val­ley as an in­land port,’ Bates said.

“There are emerg­ing mar­kets, like wind en­ergy,” Bates said. “There is real po­ten­tial there. We are uniquely suited to take ad­van­tage of that. We have ro­bust ferry ser­vice in new Lon­don and Bridge­port and an op­por­tu­nity in the cruise in­dus­try.”

Cather­ine Smith, com­mis­sioner of the state De­part­ment of Eco­nomic and Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment and co-port au­thor­ity di­rec­tor, said the re­ces­sion took its toll on the ports.

“The ports suf­fered greatly af­ter the Great Re­ces­sion,” Smith said.

“There are many op­por­tu­ni­ties, whether in the wind in­dus­try or to help with our high­ways,” she said. “The plan lays out the best op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

Arnold Gold / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Two jet skiers cross paths with a fishing boat in New Haven Har­bor near Light­house Point Park in June.

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