Port-To-Train Study Is On The Way

Thomas Breen photoThe New Haven Port now has $500,000 to spend to figure out how best to connect freight rail lines and the city’s port authority so that more and more incoming cargo is carried by train rather than by truck.

City and state officials announced from the second floor of City Hall on Wednesday afternoon that the Connecticut Port Authority and the City of New Haven have received the money in the form of a planning grant from the state to study improved connections between the Port of New Haven and regional freight service.

The city and state port authorities are already collaborating with the Army Corps of Engineers on a study to figure out whether or not to deepen the city Port Authority’s channel from its current level of 35 feet to allow for larger ships to come to port. This new study marks the second major collaboration between the state and city port authorities.

City and state officials touted the planning grant as paving the way for improving freight access to the city’s port, thereby increasing the amount of work and number of jobs generated by the port, and decreasing the amount of freight carried by trucks along city streets, state roads, and highways.

“Fewer trucks and less congestion improve the quality of air,” Mayor Toni Harp said, “increase productivity, and reduce wear and tear on the state’s infrastructure.”

She, along with New Haven State Sen. Martin Looney and State Rep. Al Paolillo, both of whom represent the area of the Annex neighborhood where the port is located on Waterfront Street, noted that New Haven’s port is one of only three deep water ports in the state, with the other two being in New London and Bridgeport. She said New Haven’s port is the busiest one located between New York and Boston.

“The expectation of this study will be to evaluate the existing infrastructure and provide us with an investment plan that identifies those improvements designed to maximize the efficiency, safety, and competitiveness of all rail movements in New Haven,” said Judi Sheiffele, the executive director of the New Haven Port Authority.

She said around 400 to 500 people currently work at the port, but that the number of jobs generated by the port multiplies exponentially once you consider the supply network and down the North East that the port helps provide goods for.

She said around two-thirds of the current cargo brought into the city’s port are liquids, primarily petroleum. Other imports coming into the city through the port include steel, salt, sand and ash. She said the only export that the port deals with is scrap metal.

Scott Bates, the director of the Connecticut Port Authority, said this planning grant will help the state move a bit towards his dream of having three job creation corridors anchored by ports, rail and trucking: the New Haven corridor from New Haven’s port up to Bradley Airport in Hartford; the New London corridor from New London’s port to Pomfret, Conn. and Massachusetts; and the Bridgeport corridor from Bridgeport’s port to the Naugatuck Valley.

Sheiffele, Bates and Connecticut Port Authority Commissioner Terry Gilbertson said the current freight rail connection could be improved because the current area on Waterfront Street is quite prone to flooding and there’s no current rail line that leads directly to the docks themselves.

“A port is nothing unless if you can get the cargo moving,” Bates said.

Click on the Facebook Live video below to watch the full press conference.

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posted by: wendy1 on June 6, 2018  7:41pm

Take the half mill and spend it on the tracks for train cargo.  Just like Yale, they blow the $$ on consultants, committees, and bullshit, probably with kickbacks to cityhall.  Obviously trains are the future and safer than the highways filling up with boomers too old to drive and other people to stupid to drive or on cellphones.

posted by: TheMadcap on June 6, 2018  9:15pm

What is wrong with the tracks that already lead into the port? Honest question if anyone knows

posted by: __quinnchionn__ on June 7, 2018  12:19am

This idea of using more trains to move cargo rather than mostly by trucks will save this state a lot of money in the future, I believe. The state spends a lot of money repairing roads and bridges over the years due to the bad weather during the winters. It’s another thing for the state to spend a lot of money repairing the roads because of the amount of trucks that drives to places daily on bridges and roadways that aren’t even in poor condition. Less congestion on highways leads to better air quality and removing cargo from ships onto trains would certainly be a better way of transporting goods rather than from ships onto trucks. I think that New Haven having a vital port would make the area more competitive along with bigger ports much like the ones in both Boston and New York.

posted by: __quinnchionn__ on June 7, 2018  12:35am

@TheMadcap,

The tracks that currently leads into the port haven’t been used in a long time. My best guess would be that they’d probably have to do construction in order to replace the tracks so that the trains can run on them properly. That must explain why the nearby rail yard that’s north of the port looks so old and abandoned. But that’s just my guess though.

posted by: JCFremont on June 8, 2018  9:27am

You would hope Judi has been studying, talking with industry companies and compiling projections. I’m sure there is some data when they built the state of the art (at the time), Forbes Avenue Bridge. I did see work being done on the tracks along Forbes Ave. recently and perhaps they might mow the tracks on the bridge. Expanding the ports occasionally (very occasionally) hit the news. Rowland wanted to expand a truck and barge terminal in Bridgeport, I always thought New Haven would be a better choice with the 91-95 junction. Now, living in New Haven for a good long time, I was surprised by the comments being positive, why? Because once the study’s and consultants are paid, Que the place-cards. Trucks! Noise! Children will die! Container Ships! They’ll swamp the kayaks and sculls, they’ll sink the Armistad! Dredge the Harbor? Stay Tuned..