New Haven Port Authority makes progress

The New Haven Port Authority held its monthly meeting on Thursday evening, reviewing its progress on numerous projects over the past year.

Judi Scheiffele, executive director of the New Haven Port Authority, briefed the board on projects such as the reconstruction of Waterfront Street, restoration of breakwaters damaged  by Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy, and the dredging of the harbor channel.

“It’s amazing how much we have accomplished,” said Katharine Goodbody, one of the commissioners of the Port Authority, who chaired the meeting.

Meeting attendees were particularly excited about the progress of the dredging project, a process of removing material from the bottom of a waterway in order to increase the depth of the water. The dredging of the New Haven Harbor channel is a maintenance project conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers whose purpose is to increase the depth of the channel to its authorized depth of 35 feet.

The process of dredging the Harbor Channel has been going on for at least five years. In 2009, the Army Corps conducted a preliminary study of the material at the bottom of the channel to determine where it could be placed after dredging, and what the cost would be, according to the New Haven Register.

Ralph Gogliettino, an advisor to the port authority and the president of Port Security Services, which operates out of New Haven, spoke about challenges in the dredging process. He said marine pilots have expressed concern the dredging ships might block access to the channel.

Currently, the channel is being dredged, and the material is being deposited at the Central Long Island Sound Disposal Site. This is an area in the Long Island Sound about 11 square kilometers that sits about six and a half miles south of East Haven, according to a Jan. 2013 public notice from the New England District of the Army Corps.

Dredging of the main channel should be completed by mid-February, according to the annual report Scheiffele distributed at the meeting. After that time, dredging will commence on areas closer to shore.

Scheiffele, along with two members of the Connecticut Department of Transportation, also discussed progress of the reconstruction of Waterfront Street, which runs parallel to the channel and provides road access for the terminal operators. The construction is part of the port authority’s Strategic Land Use Plan, prepared in May 2007, which involves extending railroad tracks to the port.

Sheiffele said Waterfront Street should be reconstructed by the spring, which will make possible the construction of additional railroad tracks.

The board unanimously approved the minutes from last year’s meeting, as well as an updated budget that extends through June 2014.

The meeting ended with a motion to go into an executive session for the purpose of discussing property acquisition and property assessment appeal.

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