Officials in Connecticut’s three largest ports – New London, New Haven and Bridgeport – have complained for years that the state is overlooking the economic possibilities of developing our commercial harbors.
Gov. Dannel Malloy traveled to New London Monday to publicize his signing of a bill (which he actually signed last Friday) designed to eventually create a state-wide quasi-public port authority” to promote and improve all three ports.
Malloy said the new authority has made him “more confident than ever that Connecticut’s ports will be in a stronger position to attract more private investment and import and export business while also taking trucks off of our congested highways and driving job growth around the state.”
In fact, the new authority won’t actually come into existence for a while yet. For one thing, most of the legislation won’t take effect until October 2015.
The bill signed by Malloy initially sets up a “port authority working group” to make recommendations about what an actual port authority’s powers and duties should be.
The working group’s proposals would then go to the state Department of Economic and Community Development. That agency would then develop a detailed plan for setting up the quasi-public port authority, which would then take over the Connecticut Maritime Commission, which advises the governor on maritime policy.
The new authority would also eventually take over the responsibilities of the maritime unit within the state Department of Transportation.
Connecticut’s ports have had a long history of troubles, including lengthy delays in getting funding for dredging projects to clear shipping channels. They have also suffered from the fact they don’t have the facilities capable of handling the massive vessels favored by many shipping companies.
Past state efforts to encourage barge traffic through the ports as a way of reducing the number of trucks jamming up Connecticut’s highways have turned out to be flops.
Despite those problems and competition from other major East Coast harbors, advocates of Connecticut’s ports believe they can help the economies of New London, New Haven and Bridgeport.
“After two years of collaboration and hard work, we are finally set to realize the full potential of Connecticut’s deep-water ports,” said Sen. Andrew Maynard, a Stonington Democrat and co-chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee.