A New Port in Paulsboro, New Jersey?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005
With its two marine terminals bursting at over-capacity and no room to grow in the rejuvenating Camden City, the South Jersey Port Corporation (SJPC) authorized $135 million in bonds to develop a world-class expansion port at Paulsboro, N.J., six miles south of Camden on the Delaware River. "We're turning ships and cargo away and that means we're turning away jobs, economic opportunity and business and that's bad for the New Jersey economy. There is no room to grow in Camden so we're expanding into Paulsboro and that's good business, good economics and good policy" said Joseph Balzano, SJPC Executive Director. Balzano estimated that once the port receives the necessary agreements, contracts and permits, it would take 24 to 36 months to build the port and open for operations. "This is a win for Camden where we will continue to be a job-creating, economic engine of the city; a win for Paulsboro where - as we did with the defunct New York Shipbuilding facilities in Camden - we will turn a defunct industrial site into a modern port and industrial park with a potential to serve thousands of jobs. And, this is a win for all those in the South Jersey region committed to creating good-paying jobs with benefits and opportunities for advancement for hardworking people. And clearly it is a win for the economy of Southern New Jersey and the state," observed SJPC Chairman Richard Alaimo. Alaimo and Balzano praised Acting Governor Richard Codey, State Senator Stephen Sweeney, who is also Gloucester County Freeholder Director, and Assemblyman John Burzichelli, who is also mayor of Paulsboro, for "understanding that the Delaware River is our region's great commercial highway to the global economy and for their vision and commitment to maximize this tremendous resource to invigorate a vibrant regional economy and create and sustain thousands of well-paid jobs with benefits." They said, "Senator Sweeney and Assemblyman/Mayor Burzichelli have been prime advocates and have done years of groundwork to convert the Paulsboro waterfront into an engine for economic growth and jobs in Gloucester County and region." Assemblyman/Mayor Burzichelli said, "We've been working for years to resurrect this valuable, but fallow, waterfront parcel into a major tool of redevelopment for Paulsboro. Now, like the fabled phoenix, this 190-acre site is rising to create new and better jobs and opportunities for the hard-working people of Paulsboro and Gloucester County. It's a keystone of Paulsboro redevelopment and we are confident we will forge a long and harmonious relationship with the South Jersey Port that benefits our residents, borough and region." "Today we have been authorized to sell the bonds but we won't be issuing any bonds today," said Clifford Goldman, financial advisor to the SJPC. "The South Jersey Port, Paulsboro and Gloucester County must complete their agreement on the port. Then we will need to spend a small part of the bonds over the next six months to conduct the necessary engineering and environmental studies and permitting to move forward. And then we'll need to have customers signed up. When we get all of those pieces together, we'll go out for competitive bid to sell about $90 million in bonds unless state and federal permits require the more costly design of upwards of $130 to $135 million." Port planners anticipate the initial state investment will attract upwards to $250 million in additional private investment in the Port Paulsboro as the port builds-out to full size. All businesses within Port Paulsboro must be port-related and must receive or dispatch their products or raw materials across the port's piers. "Because of the intense competition for cargo we don't talk about whom we're marketing to or about the substance of our negotiations until we have a deal ready for the SJPC Board of Directors to consider," explained Balzano. "However, from the response to the marketing we have been doing, I am confident we will have the business to trigger the port's construction. Balzano is confident that he has the potential tenants in the pipeline for the new port. Until today we couldn't make a deal with new customers until we had facilities to accommodate them. Now we can move forward." The port site will be subdivided into a marine terminal and associated warehousing and upland facilities. From an operations standpoint, the marine terminal will consist of a modern wharf and fender system that ranges from a phase one development of approximately 1,500 linear feet to a potential full-build length of approximately 3,500 linear feet. As currently proposed, the full build-out of the 190 acre Port Paulsboro will comprise berths for six ships including roll-on and roll-off and lift-on and lift-off capabilities for more efficient cargo handling and at least one container crane. The port will seek permitting for all six berths but will only initially build two berths and then add the additional berths as business grows. Legislation to Protect G. Lakes Governor Jennifer M. Granholm signed legislation that will help protect the Great Lakes from the dangers of non-native aquatic invaders by requiring permits for all oceangoing ships that dock in Michigan ports. The bill-signings come at the beginning of Aquatic Invasive Species Week in Michigan. "These new laws are the right thing to do to protect the lakes, and it makes economic sense to spend money on keeping invasive species out, rather than the much larger cost of trying to control them once they are here," added Steven Chester, director of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). House Bill 4603 (Public Act 32 of 2005) and Senate Bill 332 (Public Act 33 of 2005) mandate that all oceangoing vessels apply for a permit from the DEQ before being allowed to use Michigan ports. To qualify for the permit, ships must prove they either will not discharge ballast water or they are equipped to prevent discharge of aquatic nuisance species. Failure to comply with permitting requirements could result in a fine of up to $25,000 per day. The bills also require DEQ to form a coalition with our Great Lakes' neighbors to implement policies to protect the waters.
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