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By TRACEY O'NEILL
Special to the Standard
NORTH KINGSTOWNâ€“ Quonset Business Park has been a hub of activity this month with several economic development projects underway for businesses and the Davisville Port Facilities.
Late last week, Governor Chafee signed the resolution endorsing a $7.5 million dredging project for the Port of Davisville. The Economic Development Corporation has been approved to issue bonds to support the project at no cost to Rhode Island taxpayers. Repayment of bonds is expected from port revenues, which are projected to increase with the completion of the dredge, allowing cargo and automobile carriers coming into the port to increase load capacity.
The maintenance and improvement permit application was submitted to the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) in April. Prepared by CLE Engineering Inc. of Marion, Massachusetts for Quonset Development Corporation (QDC), the dredge is expected to remove approximately 260,000 cubic yards of material to be disposed of at the Rhode Island Sound Disposal Site (RISDS). The sediment samples tested in anticipation of the project as required were found to be within acceptable standards for disposal at the offshore facility.
The project will deepen the canal to 32 ft. at low tide level and will encompass approximately 37 acres of Narragansett Bay per public notice submitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in May. The dredge will include the approach channel to the port facility as well as the south berth area between Piers I and II of the Deep Water Marine Terminal facility.
In addition to the USACE and CRMC submissions, the project also requires monitoring by the State Department of Environmental Management to ensure all applicable Water Quality standards are met.
The Port, originally built as a US Navy facility in 1942, is one of the top 10 auto importers in North America and currently employs over 1,100 individuals. It is also responsible for $120 million of the stateâ€™s business activity, as stated by Stephen King, Director of QDC before the House Finance Committee earlier this year. State officials are confident that the dredging project is a plus for further economic development in the area, allowing both increased productivity and job creation for businesses in Davisville.
Looking to the future and further economic growth, the QDC has also added a federally-funded Mobile Harbor Crane which will allow more efficient cargo transfer. The purchase of the crane, obtained through a collaborative effort with Sens. Reed, Whitehouse, and Rep. Jim Langevin, was secured through the federal TIGER transportation funding program. Acquisition of the crane allows the Port to become more competitive in the short-sea shipping industry, an alternative to traditional shipping avenues.
Combined with the QDC site-readiness program, addition of the new mobile harbor crane and site dredge are expected to move the Quonset Business Park and Port Facility forward as a sponsor of critically needed job growth in the state.
In an effort to keep Rhode Islanderâ€™s apprised of any job openings at the more than 168 businesses, QDC has launched a new website, www.quonsetjobs.com where job seekers can find updated information on current happenings for park businesses.