NK Standard Times: Grant awarded for Quonset marine highway project

NK Standard Times: Grant awarded for Quonset marine highway project

By Alex Trubia

NORTH KINGSTOWN, RI –  U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) this week announced an $855,200 federal grant for the Quonset Development Corporation (QDC) to purchase new yard equipment that will assist the Port of Davisville with handling cargo and advancing a marine highway project.  The grant comes after Reed successfully worked to designate short sea shipping between Rhode Island, Brooklyn, and Newark as a marine highway project in March.

This new federal grant will provide the Port of Davisville with one reach stacker, four yard tractors, and four bomb carts, which will help to facilitate the movement of containers at the Port and provide added capability to make the Port’s short-sea shipping service more efficient and competitive while also providing a viable alternative for freight shipping.  According to Reed, the grant will also provide resources to help market this new service.

QDC Managing Director Steven King said the grant funding will accelerate the Port of Davisville by enabling the corporation to handle container shipping as “a means of moving goods” while expanding their capabilities in short-sea shipping.

“It will also help us to add to the hundreds of jobs here at the Port,” King added. “We want to thank Senator Reed for his leadership on this initiative, and to Red Hook Container Terminal for their partnership in making this Marine Highway Project a reality.”

Marine highways are navigable waterways that offer an alternative to the nation’s crowded highways and roads for moving freight or passengers.  Under the America’s Marine Highway program, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Maritime Administration (MARAD) periodically designates additional marine highway projects, offering new or expanded short sea shipping services and routes that have the potential to provide public benefits and long-term sustainability.

Being recognized by MARAD, the marine highway project will also receive preferential treatment for future federal grants and other assistance from DOT and MARAD.

As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Transportation-Hud Appropriations Subcommittee, Reed said the grant will help to establish a new marine shipping alternative on the Northeast Corridor, which “has the potential to create jobs and to relieve congestion and wear-and-tear on our highways.”

“It also creates competition for the movement of freight in the region, which could ultimately lower costs for businesses and consumers,” Reed added.  “I was pleased to work with my colleagues in the Rhode Island delegation to support Quonset’s application to purchase new equipment that will help get this service off the ground.”

The Port of Davisville, Brooklyn and Newark service is a proposed container-on-barge service that will be operated by SEACOR AMH, LLC and will include a dedicated run twice per week with up to 800 TEU containers.  This service will operate in the Block Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, Long Island Sound, and East River.

Last March, Reed announced the project in Rhode Island alongside MARAD Administrator Rear Admiral Mark H. Buzby, marine workers, and business leaders during a tour and visit to discuss federal funding for small shipyards and new opportunities for Rhode Island businesses.

“I am pleased MARAD has approved Quonset’s Marine Highway designation.  The Marine Highway program is designed to expand the use of navigable waterways, relieve congestion, and reduce pollution,” Reed said in March. “This designation makes them eligible to apply for future federal Marine Highway grants.”

At that time, Reed also asked the rest of the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation to join his letter to Administrator Buzby in support of QDC’s request for the funds.

“As the northern terminus of this service, the Port of Davisville combines port, rail, air, and ground transportation, is a top ten port in North America for vehicle imports, and is a gateway to markets throughout Southern New England,” the Congressional Delegation stated. “The added capability will make the short sea shipping service more efficient and competitive, providing a viable alternative for freight shipping along the congested 1-95 corridor.”

The letter was signed by Reed, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and U.S. Representatives David Cicilline and James Langevin.