Construction under way at new Paulsboro port

Dredging at Paulsboro Marine Terminal is part of the work for the port, which should open late next year. About 300,000 cubic feet of soil will raise the site, across from Philadelphia International Airport. SOUTH JERSEY PORT CORP.
Dredging at Paulsboro Marine Terminal is part of the work for the port, which should open late next year. About 300,000 cubic feet of soil will raise the site, across from Philadelphia International Airport. SOUTH JERSEY PORT CORP.
Posted: April 13, 2012

When a port with two ship berths opens late next year in Paulsboro, it will be the first new marine terminal in 50 years on the Delaware.

Already, about $70 million has been spent to clear the site, construct a retaining wall on the shoreline, and haul and place 300,000 cubic yards of soil to raise the elevation of the 190-acre site, directly across from Philadelphia International Airport.

The port is at a bend in the river, and thousands of cubic yards of sediment have been dredged to deepen the area to 40 feet to accommodate ships.

New Jersey is providing $200 million toward the construction. Bids will be advertised in May to build the wharf, said Kevin Castagnola, executive director and CEO of South Jersey Port Corp. About $65 million in construction and equipment-supply contracts will be executed in the next year.

The port is the largest economic development project ever undertaken in Gloucester County, said George Strachan, executive director of the Gloucester County Improvement Authority, the construction manager for the project.

“It’s probably the largest in South Jersey,” Gloucester County Freeholder Director Robert Damminger said. “It’s all about jobs.”

Paulsboro is a small town of 6,000 that has seen brighter days. The port will bring commerce and as many as 2,500 jobs, said state Assemblyman John Burzichelli, a former mayor there.

“The importance is obvious: It’s the jobs created for the region,” said Burzichelli. “Paulsboro is only two square miles, so the impact is going to be considerable.”

Paulsboro fell on hard times, first when Interstate 295 diverted traffic from the downtown. Then came the shopping malls, such as Deptford, which helped kill the mom-and-pop stores.

South Jersey Port Corp. and the Gloucester County Improvement Authority are developing the marine terminal. Port officials have been talking to potential tenants, including offshore wind developers, equipment manufacturers, and component fabricators, about using the Paulsboro piers.

Eleven private offshore wind developers have expressed interest in developing wind farms totaling more than 12,000 megawatts off New Jersey’s coastline, said Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Ragonese.

“Offshore wind is definitely a viable possibility for Paulsboro, if it ever occurs,” Castagnola said. “A manufacturer could bring the components in through the port, assemble them there, and then ship them back out. Or, if there was enough work, a manufacturer could build their plant in Paulsboro and manufacture the wind turbines right there.” Wind energy supporters want to make New Jersey a hub for wind manufacturing.

The Paulsboro port is on 130 acres that had been the BP Oil Paulsboro Terminal, and 60 acres that was Dow Chemical’s former Essex Chemical plant.

BP made the property available to Paulsboro and developer South Jersey Port for $1 under a 90-year lease.

The terminal will handle ships carrying break-bulk cargoes, rather than large container cargo ships. Break-bulk cargo — such as plywood, steel coils, fruit, and cocoa beans — is packaged in smaller crates or pallets, and not shipped in 20- or 40-foot containers.

“We’ve talked to various people and customers. Nothing has been finalized, but we have a few opportunities that we are pursuing,” Castagnola said.

The project calls for Gloucester County Improvement Authority to build an access road and bridge over Mantua Creek that would link traffic from an exit on Interstate 295 directly to the port. Trucks would not drive on local streets. That construction requires 3? acres of private land that one homeowner does not wish to sell. The case is in court.

The port’s final wharf design and environmental approvals are completed, officials said. Once the wharf is built, ships will be able to dock.

“We’re investing in our infrastructure to be well-positioned to take full advantage when the global economy improves,” Strachan said. “ We’ll always need ports, and this is the time to build them, to help fuel our regional economy.”

Contact Linda Loyd at 215 854 2831 or lloyd@phillynews.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|