NEW BEDFORD, MA – State and congressional dignitaries, led by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking on May 6 for the New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, the first facility in the nation designed to support the construction, assembly, and deployment of offshore wind projects.
“Today, we’re celebrating the birth of the offshore wind industry in the US,” said Alicia Barton, CEO of the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), the quasi-public agency administering the project. “With Massachusetts’ world-class research centers, skilled workforce, and access to capital, the Bay State makes an ideal hub for this emerging clean energy industry.”
The 28-acre facility is being built at the current site of the city’s South Terminal on New Bedford harbor just inside the port’s hurricane barrier. Quincy-based general contractor Cashman-Weeks NB began work on April 22 and is expected to finish in 2014.
According to MassCEC, the $100 million project will involve the construction of a new coffer-dam style bulkhead capable of providing berthing space for large shipping vessels, including those delivering offshore wind components and the jack-up barges that will serve as construction vessels for offshore wind projects.
“Investing in infrastructure will create jobs now and build a stronger commonwealth for the next generation,” said Patrick. “This is how Massachusetts claims its place as a hub for a new American industry.”
In addition to Patrick and Barton, others participating in the groundbreaking included: Lt. Gov. Tim Murray; US Sen. Mo Cowan (D-MA); New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell; state Sen. Mark Montigny; state Energy and Environmental Affairs Sec. Rick Sullivan; state Rep. Antonio Cabral; state Rep. Chris Markey; New Bedford City Council President Bruce Duarte Jr.; and city Councilors Henry Bousquet and Joseph Lopes.
They were joined by Greater New Bedford Vocational and Technical High School Senior Jamil Gimenez and by Swift Elementary School fifth-grader Ian Medeiros, who presented the governor with a model of a wind turbine.
The young men symbolically represented those who will benefit from the job opportunities the port expansion and offshore renewable energy industry are expected to create in the coming years.
Ships up to 500′
The new facility will allow New Bedford harbor to receive and service ships up to 500′ in length, increasing the city’s competitiveness as a medium-sized Northeast port.
It also will “put the port at the forefront of what is expected to become a robust renewable energy supply chain industry,” MassCEC said.
Among the major construction elements are:
• Dredging and removing contaminated sediments in the harbor to create a 30′-deep channel that can accommodate deepwater vessels;
• Constructing a confined aquatic disposal (CAD) cell offshore for the disposal and safe containment of any contaminated soils;
• Constructing a 1,000′-long extension to the existing South Terminal bulkhead to support large-vessel berthing and heavy shoreside cranes capable of unloading cargo and “large- to super-sized” industrial components; and
• Placing the clean sediment generated from the dredging operation behind the bulkhead to create additional acres of land that will be available for staging commercial-scale offshore wind projects.
The construction project already is impacting navigation in New Bedford harbor. Port operators issued an advisory in January notifying mariners that fish barriers had been placed at the south end of South Terminal and at CAD Cell #3, which is located 1,000′ north of Pope’s Island. These “bubble curtains” are intended to keep fish out of the construction area while allowing vessels to safely pass over them.