USA: Senator Opposes Rhode Island Mega-Container Port Plan
Sen. James C. Sheehan, who led the battle against a mega-container port, stated that aside from quality of life issues, a mega-container port is undesirable because it is not economically viable.
Senator Sheehan, who also served on a recent legislative commission studying port development in the state, said “the idea of building a mega-container port has long since set sail. Rhode Island lacks the resources as well as a deep pocketed private partner to seriously consider a mega-container port at Quonset. Further, such a partner is unlikely due to the aggressive build-out of competitor ports up and down the eastern seaboard which have already claimed likely future market share of the high volume containerized cargo business.”
Touching off a recent mega-container port debate was a recent meeting between the members of the North Kingstown Town Council and the State Planning Council. The North Kingstown municipal comprehensive plan forbids a container port at Quonset.
Senator Sheehan stated that a small-scale cargo port was an idea that could work at Quonset as part of President Obama’s Marine Highways initiative.
Marine Highways, championed by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, is an initiative designed to move container cargo from trucks to small, short-range barges, to relieve truck traffic on busy interstate highways, as well as to save fuel and reduce air pollution. “Barges are a far more fuel-efficient way to move container cargo than trucks, and they don’t clog up Route 95, either,” said Senator Sheehan.
Senator Sheehan pointed out that the volume of ships and container traffic envisioned by the Marine Highways initiative could easily be served essentially with the existing infrastructure at Davisville, and should present few if any environmental concerns. “It will increase the utilization of roads, piers and equipment we already have, and — more important — increase the number of jobs at the port.”
Senator Sheehan concluded: “While I stand behind no one in my opposition to a mega-port at Quonset, I think a small port operation serving local short-sea shipping will serve our town and our state well, and provide jobs to our citizens.”
Dredging Today Staff, September 25, 2012; Image: fstflorian