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Benefits from Developing a Container Shipping Facility and Service in Bridgeport Harbor, Connecticut

JAMES T. WANG, AICP
Executive Director
Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency Transportation Center
525 Water Street
Bridgeport, CT 06604
Tel. (203)366-5405
Fax. (203)366-8437

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BENEFITS FROM
DEVELOPING
A CONTAINER SHIPPING
FACILITY AND SERVICE
IN BRIDGEPORT

photo of a barge

Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency

December 15, 2000


BENEFITS FROM DEVELOPING A CONTAINER
SHIPPING FACILITY AND SERVICE IN BRIDGEPORT

Summary of a report prepared for the Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency (GBRPA) by Management & Transportation Associates Inc., of Essex, Conn., entitled "Economic Viability of a Waterborne Barge Feeder Service for Bridgeport Harbor," issued Dec. 15, 2000

GBRPA's Study found that Bridgeport's proposed facility for shipping containers by barge would be a cost effective and beneficial alternative to moving containers from the New York/New Jersey Port by trailer truck over Interstate 95 (I-95) through Fairfield County. The facility, is estimated to have a start up cost of up to $5.6 million for equipment and site improvements. The facility would reduce traffic and air pollution problems in the Greater Bridgeport Planning Region, Connecticut by using the barge instead of the trucks to transport freight. The facility is predicated significantly curtail truck traffic on 1-95 through Fairfield County, Connecticut, and become a distribution center for Connecticut and New England. With a lower number of trucks on the already crowded highway, there would be less traffic congestion, accidents, noise, and air pollution. The facility would also support the development of a variety of warehouses and factories, thereby producing a variety of new jobs for the Greater Bridgeport Planning Region. Bridgeport Harbor offers great assets for a container facility having land close to navigable channels, upland sites for related businesses and easy access to highways. But, the success of the overall concept lies in how well Bridgeport develops its potential as a port. The city can squander a golden opportunity for maritime and business growth, if it does not develop its harbor effectively.

Shipping containers by barge over the 70 miles of water to and from Bridgeport and the New York/ New Jersey Port would immediate reduce trailer truck traffic in the highly congested 33-mile stretch of 1-95 from Greenwich to Bridgeport. The creation of a Bridgeport container facility would eliminate 40,000 tractor trailer trucks from this section of 1-95 by its second year of operation. By conservative estimates, the number of trucks removed from the highway could grow to 70,000 by 2020 and 175,000 by 2040. This reduction may seem low relative to the 1.6 million trucks now traveling north, and the 1.27 million traveling south along 1-95 annually through the area. Even so, the section of 1-95 through Norwalk and Stamford will benefit from a reduction in truck traffic because it is one of the most heavily traveled sections of roadway in the nation. It is plagued with

accidents, including trailer track crashes, that cause shutdowns, bottlenecks and delays. Reducing the heavy traffic is in the best interests of the Greater Bridgeport Planning Region and Fairfield County, because traffic congestion is a potential impediment to future growth and development. In addition to improving traffic flow, the barge link to Bridgeport would decrease costly I-95 road maintenance and improvements associated with trailer truck use. If the barge service is not implemented, truck traffic on I-95 to Bridgeport will likely grow in line with the anticipated increase in shipping to the New York/New Jersey Port. The port's goal to more than double its capacity to handle containers in the near future will only be realized if various transfer points for the containers shipped there are developed. Bridgeport is envisioned as one of a possible seven such transfer sites.

With a deminished number of trucks on the road, air quality is destined to improve. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has cited Fairfield County as an "extreme non attainment area" due to its current inability to meet air quality standards. Therefore, reducing air polution in the area is important. The elimination of diesel-powered trucks from I-95 will significantly reduce pollution from nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. This abatement of air pollutants, in the magnitude of tons per year, will not only improve air quality for residents of Connecticut, but for those of New York and New Jersey as well.

The container shipping facility also has the potential of developing many new jobs in Greater Bridgeport Planning Region by supporting existing businesses and the creation of new ones. These businesses would be associated with manufacturing, warehousing, shipping and import-export activities. Bridgeport would especially benefit from the creation of these new businesses if it were the first in Connecticut to develop a container shipping site. The former Cartech site or nearby land may provide sufficient room on Bridgeport Harbor for the container facility. The facility may stimulate the development of various businesses along the Seaview Avenue corridor, such as at the former Remington site, the former Father Panik Village housing project site or the Lake Success Industrial Park. The successful development of associated businesses along the Seaview corridor, such as Lake Success, is contingent upon the eventual improvement of the railroad viaduct at Crescent Avenue that now restricts truck traffic. However, workers will also needed to handle containers at the receiving/shipping facility. They will lighten containers that are too heavy for transport over the highway, by removing items from them and putting them into trucks. They will also consolidate freight into containers. Truck drivers will be required to move the containers to and from their destinations and Bridgeport. And, an untold number of jobs could be created at service and manufacturing businesses in Bridgeport and its surrounding towns with the support of container shipping. The overall result would be a growth in jobs for Bridgeport residents.

A barge and tugboat service would move the containers daily from Monday to Friday between the New York/New Jersey Port and Bridgeport. A roll-on and roll-off system with truck ramps and a small crane on wheels would cost less to operate than a large shore crane for handling the containers at Bridgeport. The large crane, because of its greater cost to purchase and manpower, would make the container facility less competitive with trucking on I-95. A barge and tugboat could be leased initially, while the economic advantages of the new Bridgeport service are proven.

Moving containers by barge to and from Bridgeport, rather than by truck, can also save initially an estimated 5 to 7 percent in shipping costs. The service could produce this cost benefit even if it would require truck links from Bridgeport to nearby cities, such as New Haven, Hartford and Springfield, and other destinations in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

An incentive payment of $50 or more per container may have to be offered to shippers for about two years to encourage them to partake in the new service. These payments may come from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and State of Connecticut because of their interests in supporting container shipping to Bridgeport. But, once this service proves itself, such an inducement will not likely be needed.

The cost of the container operation is estimated at about $14 million. Of this total, $5.6 million would be needed for various equipment for handling and transporting the containers. But, the total cost could be reduced by $8.2 million, if a decision is made to lease rather than purchase the barge. The equipment estimate also does not include the cost of a tugboat or towboat for moving the barge, because vessel would likely be chartered for the work. Other costs include $5.6 million for paving, a sewer pipe extension, lighting, bollards, fendering, a bulkhead and other site and dock improvements. Costs for an office and maintenance building with equipment and tools along with a guard shack are estimated at $150,000. However, no funds are required for improving roads in the vicinity, becouse such work was completed as part of 1-95 improvements to the Interchange 29 construction with Stratford and Seaview Avenues.

Bridgeport's container service may be started almost immediately because the city's current port facilities are underutilized. However, plans for the container facility should begin before initiation of service. Thus, as interest grows for the use of shipping containers by barge to Bridgeport, the permanent site shoud be prepared. The site for the facility should initially have 10 to 15 continuous acres adjacent to a navigable channel, but the total size should be 20 to 25 acres at the ship's side to provide for future growth. If the size of the site is compromised than potential benefit for Bridgeport and its region may be as well.

Use of the Bridgeport container facility would have advantages for businesses, shippers, and truckers, though it would take many hours to load and unload containers and ship them over water between the Bridgeport Port and the New York/New Jersey Port. The maritime side of the New York/New Jersey Port operates around the clock, but the port's trailer truck gate closes in the late afternoon as the evening rush hour begins. As a result, containers would stay at the port overnight placed on trucks the following day. With the development of the Bridgeport container facility, the containers can be brought to Bridgeport overnight by barge and be ready for trucking to their destinations in the morning. Truckers moving these containers would not have to wait in line at New York/ New Jersey Port, or travel over the congested 70 miles of roadway from New York City to Bridgeport. Removing these impediments would enable trucking firms to increase efficiency in their use of drivers and trucks and help them cope with the current shortage of drivers. Overall, the Bridgeport container service would allow business customers to better predict the arrival of their shipments and plan their production schedules.

The study reached its conclusions by interviewing trucking companies, barge and tugboat operators, shippers, freight forwarders, the International Longshoreman's Association, terminal operators in the New York/New Jersey Port, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Bridgeport Port Authority, the Connecticut Department of Transportation, Coastline Terminals of Connecticut and Logistec Connecticut, operator of Bridgeport's Cilco Terminal.

For further information, refer to the GBRPA's study report "Economic Viability of a Waterborne Feeder Service for Bridgeport Harbor" or contact James T. Wang, Executive Director of the Greater Bridgeport Regional Planning Agency, Transportation Center, 525 Water Street, Bridgeport CT 06604 or call 203-366-5405.

Updated: 03/30/2011
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