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$2 million study could lead to big deal for New London

New London — The State Bond Commission on Friday approved more than $2 million to study the possibility of bringing a shipping container facility to Harold E. Shear State Pier.

The Department of Transportation reallocated $1.2 million for the study, which had been awarded to Bridgeport in 2004. The Bridgeport study was never done, and the contract was terminated in 2008.

The bond commission also approved nearly $800,000 for annual maintenance at the pier.

The $1.2 million will be used for engineering and design work for infrastructure and improvements to the pier, according to Chuck Beck, transportation maritime manager with the DOT.

"The study will look at designing infrastructure and improvements for the possibility of accommodating a container feeder project,'' Beck said.

There are two tenants at the pier, Logistech Corp. and Thames River Seafood Corp., whose leases will be up in 2013. The state is preparing to send out requests for proposals to see if any companies are interested in long-term leases. Beck said it is possible the two tenants could remain at the pier.

City Manager Denise Rose said Friday it was good news that the state is investing in the deep-water port.

"I think it's great," she said. "It's a step forward for New London and the port to have upgraded facilities, which will lead to economic development and more jobs."

State Sen. Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, was "delighted by the prospect" of improvements to the pier that could accommodate shipping containers. "This investment in eastern Connecticut's only deep-water port is part of the comprehensive overhaul we envision for our regional transportation system," she said.

The bond commission also allocated $150,000 to finance a study and design project to dredge Goshen Cove Inlet at Harkness Memorial State Park in Waterford. Stillman said sand and silt has built up in the cove, blocking the tidal flow and creating backups in nearby waste-water and storm-water drainage systems on Route 213.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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