Patrick-Murray Administration Celebrates Coastal Infrastructure Improvements in New Bedford
Seaport Council approves future coastal investment
“Making investments in our coastal communities creates jobs, supports existing industries, and enhances local and regional economic development” said Lt. Governor Murray. “Together these three projects will secure New Bedford’s port, make fishing and boating more accessible and expand shipping opportunities for the community.”
The improvements to the State Pier, which is owned by the Commonwealth and managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), will make it easier to secure international cargo, make cargo ship docking available year round, and expand boating access.
Earlier today, the Seaport Advisory Council approved $300,000 in funding to support the New Bedford HDC Commercial Fishing Piers Berthing Expansion Project, Construction Phase II. The project includes the continuation of the phased high priority repair and rehabilitation work at the Commercial Fishing Piers Expansion Project, which is currently under construction. The funding will support the critical repairs to the deteriorated pier infrastructure. These repairs will improve the safety and usability of these pier structures for the future. The $1 billion commercial fishing industry in New Bedford employs 4,400 people and is the city’s top economic driver. The rehabilitation of core infrastructure is vital to sustaining the key industry and the City’s top economic driver. The Council also approved projects in Fall River, Winthrop, Lynn and Plymouth.
DCR’s Waterways program – which helps municipal, state and federal governments design and construct waterway infrastructure including seawalls, flood controls, wharfs, beaches and public access points – managed the secured docking facility project constructed on the northwest end of the pier.
Totaling $318,548 funds to construct the project include $202,212 in federal stimulus funding awarded to the Massachusetts Environmental Police and $116,336 from DCR. The project replaced the single steel float and ramp currently utilized as a dock for a single patrol vessel with a floating dock and upgraded electric and water services. This enhancement will increase docking capabilities to accommodate up to five vessels. The facility is secured from public access with ample parking and lighting as well as 24-hour continuous recorded video surveillance. DCR Waterways installed new perimeter fencing and mechanical gates, added card readers at every door and upgraded the security monitoring system.
“These improvements will help keep our waterways more secure for the commercial and recreational vessels that use them,” said DCR Commissioner Edward M. Lambert, Jr. “DCR is pleased to have partnered with the Seaport Council and our sister agencies in making these significant investments a reality.”
Port security and navigational safety are important features of the ports of New Bedford and Fairhaven, which are a high-traffic zone servicing a diverse set of vessels including passenger, fuel, barge, freight, hazardous cargo and commercial fishing, as well as recreational boaters.
“For coastal communities, port security is of upmost importance and this project will help our patrols be more effective,” said Environmental Police Director Col. Aaron Gross. “This secure vessel dockage area enables us and our local and federal partners to maintain patrols and emergency response vessels in a constant state of readiness.”
The Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM) recently completed approximately $3.3 million in improvement projects at pier Buildings 1 and 2. This project was funded with $2.3 million from the Seaport Advisory Council and $1 million from DCR’s Waterways program. Building 1 – a two-story cargo shed – underwent demolition and removal of the easternmost end bay to allow additional turning radius for trailers on the pier, asbestos removal, elevator upgrades, electrical system metering and improvements, roof replacement, new bathrooms, a pier manager office and conference room; an upgrade of plumbing and water lines, and sprinkler system improvements. DCR is also installing heaters in Building No. 1 for the cargo shed in order to keep winter produce from freezing. Building 2 – a one-story cargo shed – underwent construction of a new roof, upgrades to the fire sprinkler system, and installation of protective bumpers to the steel columns.
In addition, earlier this year, the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Division of Marine Fisheries completed a $95,000 project to improve boating access at the pier and included improvements to docks, gangways, floats and landings at four locations throughout the harbor, including one at Tonnessen Park at the State Pier. Last year, the city of New Bedford received a grant from DMF for a new pump out boat to service recreational boaters. The initial funding for boat access and pump out service in New Bedford came through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from federal boating fuel tax dollars from recreational boaters. Massachusetts has 15 No Discharge Areas, including Buzzards Bay, prohibiting the discharge of any treated or untreated boast sewage along the coast.
“New Bedford Harbor is a destination for boaters and anglers and these improvements will ensure that it’s accessible for years to come,” said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin.
With these improvements, the State Pier management anticipates having at least one cargo ship per week dock at the pier. In the past, ships have docked there only in October through April. These improvements will allow year-round produce to come through the port.
This year the State Pier hosted the first Commercial Marine Expo, an exhibition and sale of commercial marine product, which drew approximately 3,000 attendees per day over three days. There are now two cruise companies that make port of call visits at the State Pier 32 times per year total.
In related news, last week the 117-year-old historic Schooner Ernestina returned to its berth at the State Pier after undergoing repairs in Fairhaven since June. The schooner, which is owned by the Commonwealth and operated and maintained by DCR, will reopen to the public in this spring for dockside tours.
“The number one fishing port in the nation is deserving of the best infrastructure and investment to keep it that way for generations to come,” said Sen. Mark Montigny who co-authored the bond, as the Chairman of the Committee on Capital Bonding, that is responsible for funding such projects. “The resources that are available in New Bedford have put our city and the port in a class of its own. These improvements are necessary and important to thousands of hard working citizens in New Bedford. This is another clear example of state investments making a real difference.”
"One of the biggest concerns of residents in the New Bedford area is bringing back those hard-earned tax dollars in the form of meaningful projects that will improve people's quality of lives. Be it improved access for expanding economic development or enhanced security and safety measures, the infrastructure improvements made represent just that," said Rep. Christopher Markey.
The Seaport Advisory Council, chaired by Lt. Governor Murray, consists of 15 members including cabinet secretaries, agency heads, mayors from seaport communities, and regional and waterway user representatives. Under the Patrick-Murray Administration, the Seaport Council has allocated over $35 million to projects in Massachusetts to enhance and develop the commercial aspects of the ports and harbors in the Commonwealth’s coastal communities.