The Port of Davisville/Quonset Point received a major boost last week, as the US Department of Transportation awarded $4.5 million for freight and commuter rail links. But the rail development is but one aspect as a study targets offshore wind power staging and auto processing as potential areas for economic development.
On April 1st, it was no joke as the US Department of Transportation awarded a $4.5 million grant to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation for the freight rail lines that serve Quonset Point and help to fund the new North Kingston commuter rail service scheduled to begin in 2012. The award will help with the critical infrastructure improvements necessary to keep expansion on track.
But what’s on track at Quonset and Rhode Island, as a whole could substantially boost business and thereby employment in a state where high unemployment is a serious issue.
Recently the initial findings of an ongoing study by the Rhode Island Bays, Rivers and Watersheds Coalition Team were released. The study, part of a special legislative commission on port development, found that there is the potential for 1,000 new jobs from cargo shipping, auto imports and the staging of offshore wind farms. The draft said that by fully utilizing the State’s ports, an additional $127 million in business revenue and $8.1 million in state and local tax revenues could be garnered annually.
One of the more interesting features of the study is using the Port as a staging area for offshore wind power. Although no offshore wind power facility has been built, a number of the projects are close to getting underway in the Northeast. Some proponents believe that offshore wind will result in a huge boost for US marine industries. The report cautioned about spending public money too early to ready Davisville for offshore wind development.
Deepwater Wind, the company behind proposals to build wind farms off Rhode Island, needs power purchase agreements in place before it can finance its projects. The study recommends waiting for the agreements to be signed before investing public funds to help facilitate construction of the wind farms.
The Quonset Development Corporation (QDC) is a real estate development and property management company. Formed in 2005, it is responsible for the development and management of the 3,207 acre Quonset Business Park (QBP). Currently the QBP has five major improvements planned for the Port of Davisville under a $22.3 million federal TIGER grant awarded to Quonset last year. These TIGER funded projects include:
- Improvements to Pier 2 (North) and the addition of a port crane has received approval from the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC). Construction plans have been finalized and bids are due in late April.
- Structural repairs to Pier 1 (South) have also received CRMC approval. Bidding for the construction phase will take place through the month of April.
- Improvements to Terminals 4 & 5, and landside parcels south of the piers, are under review by CRMC, with the planning phase possibly beginning as early as April.
Improvements to Davisville Road and the extension of Tidal Drive have received CRMC approval and design phase completion is nearly complete.
- Railroad track, ballast and ties have been installed in the Pier 2 area from Davisville to the NORAD switch.
North Atlantic Distribution, Inc. (NORAD) is one of the key pieces to the QBP. NORAD is one of the East Coast’s largest auto processors. The company has secure contracts with VW/Audi, Ford and Porsche. Justin Newell, Porsche Cars North America’s manager of vehicle logistics, said, “The Port of Davisville represents one of the country’s top facilities.” “From an efficiency standpoint, it is perhaps one of the best roll-on-roll-off ports in the industry, and it exclusively handles automobile shipments.”
It also doesn’t hurt that the facility doesn’t charge a Harbor Maintenance Fee (HMT), which amounts to a savings of $12.50 per $10,000 in cargo value. The