New Bedford Port Hopes to Become 'A Player' in Short Sea Shipping

By Charis Anderson
New Bedford Standard-Times

A barge with three housing parts for a gas powered turbine arrive at the State Pier in New Bedford. PETER PEREIRA

NEW BEDFORD — After traveling 280 nautical miles, a barge carrying more than 300,000 pounds of equipment destined for a power generation plant in Dartmouth docked at State Pier Thursday.
The barge’s arrival is an indicator of the port’s potential future as a shipping hub, city officials said.
“It’s just demonstrating that we are a player in this domestic market,” said Kristin Decas, the city’s port director.
“We want to be part of this emerging short sea shipping network … so we’re trying to get ourselves on the map.”
The equipment on the barge will form part of a new gas-turbine generator at Dartmouth Power Associates, located at 1 Energy Road in North Dartmouth, according to Brian Martin, president of Arizona-based Heavy Logistics.
Martin’s company was hired to transport the generator from its starting point in Syracuse, N.Y.
The generator was disassembled in Syracuse and the majority of the parts — 40 truck-loads worth — were driven from upstate New York to Dartmouth.
Three parts — the power house, the air inlet and the transformer — were so large and heavy that Connecticut denied the permits required to drive them through the state, according to Martin.
Instead, the parts were loaded on a barge in Albany, N.Y., and shipped down the Hudson River, out New York Harbor and up Long Island Sound, arriving about 48 hours later in New Bedford.
The cargo will be off-loaded today at the Environmental Protection Agency dewatering facility located at North Terminal, a job that will take three or four hours, said Martin. The equipment will then be driven 13 miles to the Dartmouth plant.
Shipping freight can generate revenue both for the port and for related industries, according to Martin.
“Certainly for the city of New Bedford to have more stuff moving through here is a very, very positive thing,” he said. “Right now, just for example, you’ve got a local crane company, a local engineer, local longshoremen. … These are all sources of revenue and jobs.”
Recently, there has been an increased emphasis at the federal level on short sea shipping, in which domestic goods are moved along the coast as well as along inland riverways, according to Decas.
“The concept (is) that they’re creating these highway corridors all along the coast on the ocean,” she said. “We’ve always had a marine highway but it’s really underutilized.”
The city is ready “today” for lighter loads, which can be off-loaded at State Pier, said Decas.
However, heavier loads need to go through the EPA facility.
“The facility was designed and built just for this kind of thing, so we’re happy to see it be used as designed,” said Dave Dickerson, the EPA’s project manager for the New Bedford Harbor cleanup.
However, he said, “It does have to be coordinated well in advance.”
At some point, ownership of the EPA facility will revert to the city, which will increase the port’s ability to attract import-export opportunities.
There is no firm date for that change in ownership, although the EPA is looking at ways to increase funding for the cleanup project and at methods to modify the cleanup plan; either option, or a combination, would accelerate the time line for transitioning ownership to the city, according to Dickerson.
June 19, 2009
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