State of Connecticut
The State of Connecticut is committed to recapture Connecticut’s Maritime Heritage of Product and Passenger Transportation. Long Island Sound should be viewed as a huge sheet of underutilized transportation infrastructure. It could be used, as it once was, forthe movement of both persons and goods. Coordinated marketing of the capacity of Connecticut’s deep-water ports to expand niche connections with cargo sources is a critical link to the Sound. The creation of inter-modal sea-land transportation hubs that enable existing and emerging coastline vehicular choke points to be bypassed will support the overall transportation strategy of the State.
Maximizing the potential of coastal traffic lanes must be accomplished within the relatively protective environs of Long Island Sound. One of the most challenging environmental issues related to port viability is maintaining accessibility; i.e., dredging and sediment management. Although the focus will be on the three deepwater ports of Bridgeport, New Haven, and New London, dredging and economic development issues apply to all ports and waterways in Connecticut.
Dredging and Sediment Management
Dredging Priorities: The degree of accessibility to Connecticut ports and waterways is controlled by the depth of the navigation channels. Most, if not all of the ports’ channels have anauthorized depth established by Congress. It is the responsibility of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) to maintain these depths. The authorized depth of a channel is commonly referred to as the controlled project depth. The ACE receives funds from Congress for specific projects. Congress does not provided the ACE with funding for all of the project needs within any specific fiscal year, thus priorities must be established.
It is the policy of the State that maintenance dredging of the channels in Connecticut ports, harbors, and waterways to the federally authorized project depth is the top maritime priority. The State can ill afford to lose existing commercial and recreational activities within its ports and harbors due to reduced channel clearance caused by naturally occurring shoaling. The highest priority is to maintain the channel depth at the State’s three largest commercial ports: Bridgeport, New Haven, and New London, but not to the exclusion of maintaining the smaller commercial and recreational ports and waterways along the coast of Connecticut. Funds for maintenance dredging must and will be aggressively sought from Congress. The State will develop and maintain a capital program as necessary and actively assist in facilitating the regulatory process for State approval of Federal maintenance dredging projects. The need for deepening existing channels will be considered in coordination with expanding economic development plans for any given port. Privately maintained channels that feed into federally supported channels are also important, particularly to the recreational use of Connecticut’s waterways. State support of these non-federally designated channels will be provided as time and money will allow.
Permit Process: Any dredging project requires permits and authorizations from various State and Federal agencies. A key consideration for obtaining a permit is the disposal of the sediment to be removed from the channel. Sediment management in Long Island Sound is subject to and complicated by the Federal Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, commonly known as the Ocean Dumping Act (ODA), which promulgates detailed Federal regulations for open water disposal of dredged sediments. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated the Western Long Island Sound and Central Long Island Sound dredged sediment disposal sites pursuant to the ODA. EPA needs to complete the site designation process for the Eastern Long Island Sound. However, future use of these sites for disposal is conditioned upon the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (acting in coordination with the EPA, the States of New York and Connecticut) preparing a comprehensive dredge material management plan (DMMP) for Long Island Sound. Preparation of the DMMP is crucial to the ability to maintain Connecticut's ports and waterways for two reasons: (1) EPA has put an eight-year time limit on preparation of the DMMP, and (2) many of Connecticut's ports and waterways will need to be dredged within the eight-year time period if the ports served are to remain viable.
It is the policy of the State to work with the Connecticut Congressional delegation to aggressively seek federal funds necessary for the preparation and implementation of the DMMP as well as funding for all Federal maintenance dredging projects needed in Connecticut.
It is the policy of the State to establish a long-range schedule of priorities for continued maintenance dredging for Connecticut ports, harbors, and waterways. Sedimentation rates and past maintenance dredging requirements for many waterways are well established.
Dredging projects need to be routinely scheduled based on the data and well enough in advance to obtain the necessary funding.
It is the policy of the State to compile information from all stakeholders on the need to increase the authorized project depth of any Connecticut port. The need will be primarily driven by expanding economic development and the real need to accommodate larger vessels. However, changes in technology, commercial vessel size, and factors related to safety and security will also be critical factors.
Economic development of the Connecticut ports has several important factors. Accessibility to the ports by water is the most important factor as described above. However, accessibility to the ports by land is also critical to the moving of goods and people from the waterfront to the commercial distribution system. Steps need be taken to leverage the State’s port and rail infrastructure for freight. Similarly, steps need to be taken to initiate or expand high-speed passenger ferry service on both an inter-state and intra-state basis.
It is the policy of the State to promote and support projects that will facilitate the intermodal connection of water, rail, and highway systems. Incentives will be developed and provided to encourage private-public maritime investment projects that will facilitate interstate and intrastate freight movement between hub/marshalling centers. Coordinated marketing of the capacity of Connecticut’s ports, particularly the deep-water ports to expand niche connections with cargo sources, will be conducted by the appropriate State agencies. Port-related land use policies that fully transform coastal industrial sites into inter-modal sea-land transportation hubs will be introduced. Similar marketing and land use policies will be introduced for the smaller ports and the passenger transportation system.
It is the policy of the State to promote competitive passenger movement options between high-density population centers. Persons traveling along the Sound would bypass congested highways. However, ferries operating between Connecticut ports or from Connecticut ports to New York ports need to interface with land-based modes of transportation. Like the issues of moving goods, the State will promote and support projects that will support inter-modal connection of water, rail, bus and highway systems in cooperation with the industry, utilizing public-private resources.
It is the policy of the State to promote the recreational use of Connecticut’s ports and harbors which provide additional economic benefits. Reduced access to Long Island Sound due to the shoaling of channels would have a significant impact on the State’s boating and tourist industries.
Connecticut Maritime Policy Letter (pdf format)