New London – The state has put a $235.5 million overall price tag on the project to redevelop State Pier into an offshore wind hub.
The figure represents the actual cost of the redevelopment, with $204 million for the construction project and an additional $31 million for “soft costs,” Office of Policy and Management Deputy Secretary Konstantinos Diamantis said during a State Bond Commission meeting Friday.
During the meeting, the State Bond Commission approved $55 million toward redeveloping and upgrading the pier, which Connecticut Port Authority Executive Director John Henshaw told The Day will enable the project to move forward with work that is currently permitted and essentially get started.
Energy companies Ørsted and Eversource plan to use the upgraded pier for assembly and staging for offshore wind turbines.
The port authority board of directors at a Tuesday meeting had approved a construction manager at risk agreement with Kiewit, an Omaha-based company, that set a “Target Guaranteed Maximum Price” of $204 million, including $193 million for construction and $11 million for contingency, Henshaw said. There is then an additional $31 million for the project’s “soft costs,” including construction administrator fees, design, permitting, environmental mitigation and the railroad property lease.
The board on Tuesday also approved the first set of construction work packages, and anticipates approving another round next Tuesday, Henshaw said. He estimates demolition could start as early as May and some of the work could begin as soon as June.
Henshaw said the port authority’s project management team, which includes representatives from OPM and the Department of Administrative Services, is “overseeing the project to make generational improvements to transform State Pier into a state-of-the-art heavy-lift capable port facility that will accommodate a wide variety of cargoes, including wind turbine generator staging and assembly.”
The majority of the project is slated to be funded by the state, with $75 million in private sector funds, according to the Bond Commission agenda.
The last most recent estimates had put the project’s cost at $200 million.
Rep. Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme, asked during Friday’s Bond Commission meeting if the requested funding was intended to address some of the project’s cost overruns.
Diamantis said they are “not necessarily cost overruns,” but that original estimates, before the current administration got involved, were based on more preliminary documents and ideas of what the project would look like. As the project developed, the state, with experts at OPM and DAS Construction Services, developed a cost estimate based on full design documents and a completed contract with the construction manager, and also is incorporating any other costs associated with the project.
During a media briefing, Gov. Ned Lamont said, “this has been a long time coming and it’s a long negotiation” but at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that the vast expansion of State Pier will bring New London Harbor, which he called one of the great harbors in the Northeast and the Eastern Seaboard, “back to its full potential.”
“It’s going to allow that harbor to be able to accommodate some of the biggest freight back and forth,” he said. “Thanks to (U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District) you have a rail connection there and in the meantime for the next 10, 20 years, we’ll see, it’s going to be the center of wind power and allow us to not only assemble but potentially even make some of the key components for wind power in this country and in this region.”
Among other items, the Bond Commission on Friday also approved additional requests from the port authority, including $5 million toward a project to dredge and improve navigation in New Haven Harbor, and $2,956,200 for the authority’s Small Harbor Improvement Projects Program, for projects in seven communities, according to the agenda.
That funding includes $649,333 toward a new Thames Street dock and $75,000 for the access to the municipal dock study in the City of Groton, according to the Bond Commission agenda.
Groton City Mayor Keith Hedrick said the project, in the works for two to three years and intended to help revitalize Thames Street and draw people and businesses to the area, calls for an eight-slip boat dock and a study on how to configure Thames View Park and make it handicapped-accessible from Thames Street down to the dock. The city also will contribute some funds toward the project. Once the city receives the state funding, the next steps would include a public hearing, local authorization to spend the money, and then a request for proposals process.
“This is great news towards economic development on Thames Street,” he said.
Norwich received $544,020 to replace the nearly 35-year-old public docks at the Howard T. Brown Memorial Park at Norwich Harbor.
“It took a long time,” Norwich Harbor Management Commission Chairman Tucker Braddock said.
Norwich submitted a request to the Connecticut Port Authority in 2019 to install new public docks and ramps on either side of the boat launch and running the length of the park. New safety railings will be installed on the back side of the docks, Braddock said. The project also includes an 80-foot-long handicapped-access ramp. The work likely will be done in the fall to avoid disruptions during the summer boating and fishing seasons and for people visiting the park.
Day Staff Writer Claire Bessette contributed to this report.
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