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State Pier of the future

The road to a transformed State Pier in New London has been anything but smooth and straight. Progress is being made, however, towards the end game of a busier, more economically vibrant pier. That's welcome news.

In December, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the final permit needed to begin work necessary to transform the pier to an offshore wind hub. The permit allows for demolition of a portion of the pier, along with dredging, installation of bulkheads and filling 7.4 acres between the current two piers. The fill will create a new central wharf area.

The federal permit comes on the heels of a state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection permit issued in August for the same work.

A renovated and rejuvenated State Pier will be good for New London and the region. Energy companies Orsted and Eversource have said the project will create some 460 construction jobs and 100 offshore wind-related jobs as the pier is transformed to a hub for several major offshore wind energy projects. The companies have partnered with the state to fund the $235 million rebuilding of State Pier.

Although critics have said these jobs are only temporary, and we share concerns that the price of the pier renovation has escalated from an original figure of $93 million, we also believe that the potential benefits of this project far outweigh its possible drawbacks.

As a facility, State Pier long has failed to live up to its potential. Although State Pier has been a busy facility at some points in the past, from its earliest years just after the turn of the 20th century, when promises of it being a major trans-Atlantic transportation center never materialized, to more recent times when shipping business languished there, until now the facility generally has remained higher on potential than in reality.

The Connecticut Port Authority's vision to turn the pier into a state-of-the-art heavy-lift capable facility, however, not only will allow State Pier to realize its potential as a hub of the so-called Blue Tech sector, but also better position it to attract other types of shipping business into the future.

We are hopeful State Pier soon will be an essential part of a more diversified and robust regional economy. We look forward to watching the transformation of this important and historic piece of the New London waterfront.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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