Connecticut laws/regulations; Background;

OLR Research Report

August 16, 2010




By: John Rappa, Chief Analyst

You asked the following questions regarding harbors and ports:

1. Who manages or oversees Connecticut's deep-water ports?

2. Do any state agencies support these ports or oversee how they are marketed?

3. What is the condition of the State Pier in New London and how much has the state spent on reconstructing and repairing it?

4. Do Bridgeport, New Haven, and New London harbors require dredging?

5. Do the New England states and New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania operate state-wide port authorities or dedicate revenue for marketing ports?


In Connecticut, locally created port authorities plan, develop, and manage ports under state statutes. But no state agency oversees these municipal quasi-public entities. A commission recommends port related policies and the state Department of Transportation (DOT) can fund harbor improvements. The legislature created a statewide port authority in 1993 to promote the ports' economic development, but it operated with no permanent staff or independent funding. In 2004, the legislature eliminated the authority.

DOT also owns and manages the State Pier in New London, which is fully used, but needs repairs and improvements. The harbor near the pier also needs dredging. Bridgeport and New Haven harbors require dredging, which is the mainly the responsibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). USACE decides which harbors to dredge based on economic factors and congressional appropriations. Preliminary planning steps for dredging these harbors are underway.

In most of the northeast states, statewide port authorities or quasi-public development corporations manage port facilities and, in some cases other transportation infrastructure. In some states, state transportation and economic development departments fund harbor improvements.


Port Agencies

Independent, locally-created port authorities oversee Bridgeport's, New Haven's, and New London's port. No state or regional agency oversees their operation, but they operate under state statutes granting them broad powers to plan, finance, develop, and operate facilities in the locally designated port district (CGS 7-329c to 329u). The current districts include privately owned and operated facilities, including docks and shipping terminals. New London's district includes the state-owned and managed State Pier. Consequently, the port authorities' roles vary.

The Bridgeport Port Authority functions as a development agency, planning and implementing projects supporting shipping and other maritime businesses. It owns two facilities—the Water Street Dock and Terminal and the Bridgeport Regional Maritime Complex. The port district includes many waterfront businesses (BPA, Environmental Summit, May 2009).

New Haven's port “primarily consists of a cluster of privately owned facilities which continue to be the subject of private investment” (New Haven Port Authority (NHPA), Port Infrastructure Project, September 15, 2009). Consequently, NHPA acts as a “facilitator and supporter of maritime uses at the Port, rather than a day-to-day caretaker.” The port's largest multipurpose terminals are operated by two private businesses—Logistec Connecticut, Inc. and Gateway Terminal.

New London recently reactivated its port authority (NLPA) after it had been dormant for several years. NLPA is currently considering how to balance the waterfront needs of the public, recreational boaters, and waterfront businesses. It is also studying whether new moorings at several sites could generate enough revenue to maintain the moorings and finance additional improvements (New London Day, May 8, 2010). The planning includes how to attract more ships to the port's major facility—the State Pier—which is owned and managed by DOT.

Status of State Pier

The State Pier “is in good material condition,” DOT Transportation Maritime Manager Chuck Beck stated. It is fully used under leases with Logistec and the Thames River Seafood Cooperative. Since 1997, the state has allocated over $28 million in bonds for repairing and reconstructing the pier. DOT used the funds to reconstruct the main pier and construct a new warehouse.

But repairs need to be made to the main pier's two wings and the deck of the Central Vermont Railroad's pier. DOT is currently identifying the pier's overall deficiencies and needs, which it prefers to do before it issues RFPs for new leases in 2013 after the current leases with Logistec and the cooperative expire.

DOT is currently completing a $1.3 million federally funded port security upgrade. It has also taken steps toward dredging the east side of the main pier to insure a 35 foot draft, Beck stated. If funds are available, DOT would also dredge the west side, the quay, and area around the Central Vermont Railroad Pier.


Each of the three deep-water ports requires dredging. Because the ports include federally-established waterways, USACE is responsible for maintaining water depths at federally-set levels (i.e., maintenance dredging). Consequently, the Corps' ability to do so depends on federal appropriations.

Bridgeport harbor has not been dredged since 1964, a fact which could affect the city's ability to market itself as a deep-water port, according to Dredging Today (April 30, 2010). A federal study estimated that it would cost $40 million to maintain the federally determined 35 foot depth (Economic Impact Study of Maritime Industries in Connecticut,

prepared for the Connecticut Maritime Commission and the Department of Economic and Community Development by Apex Companies, LLC and FXM Associates, February 2010).

The USACE appears to be moving ahead with the project. It notified the public on February 10, 2010 that the draft environmental assessment for the dredging would be available until March 26, 2010 (http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/projects/ct/bridgeport/bridgeportDMMP.htm).

New Haven is currently planning to dredge the harbor, which was last dredged in 2004. The planning involves testing sediments for contaminants. The federal government is funding the study.

The Defense Department maintains New London's main channel for submarines based in Groton. But, as noted above, dredging is needed around the State Pier.

State Assistance

As noted above, municipal port authorities manage Connecticut's deep water ports, but DOT can fund or initiate harbor improvements (CGS 13b-55a and 13b-57). Harbor improvements may also qualify for funds under two economic development programs—Urban Act and Manufacturing Assistance Act. Further, the Connecticut Maritime Commission advises the governor, transportation commissioner, and legislature on developing the state's ports and enhancing maritime commerce.



As Table 1 shows, state port authorities or state-wide quasi-public development agencies market or manage port facilities in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island. (New York and New Jersey operate an interstate, multipurpose port authority that includes port terminals in both states.) As noted above, Connecticut does not have a state-wide authority or quasi-public corporation that manages and operates ports. Nor does Connecticut dedicate revenues for marketing the ports.

Table 1: State Agencies in the Northeast with Port-Related Responsibilities


State Port Authority and Role

Quasi-Public Corporation and Role

State Department and Role





Department of Transportation:

Improve, maintain, and manage State Pier (New London)

Coordinate dredging projects with federal, state, and local agencies

Fund port improvements

Connecticut Maritime Commission: Develop and recommend maritime policy


Maine Port Authority: Marketing


Maine Department of Transportation:

Promote port development at Eastport, Searsport, and Portland

Administer Small Harbor Improvement Program



Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport): Develop, manage, and operate specific facilities, including Conley Terminal and Logan International Airport






Pease Development Authority: Manage and maintain

Market Street Marine in Portsmouth Fishing, ferry, and recreational facilities in Portsmouth, Rye, and Hampton




Interstate Port Authority of New York and New Jersey: Develops, maintains, and markets ports and other transportation infrastructure


New Jersey Department of Transportation: Improve access to and between Newark-Elizabeth
Air/Seaport Complex



Same as above





Philadelphia Regional Port Authority: Develop and manage Port of Philadelphia


Department of Community and Economic Development, markets ports and funds their operations and improvements




Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC): Marketing

Quonset Development Corporation (RIEDC subsidiary): Developing and managing Port of Davisville



Multipurpose Agencies

The table suggests at least two organizational approaches for managing and promoting ports: multipurpose and single-purpose agencies.

Massachusetts and the New York/New Jersey port authorities develop, maintain, and operate ports, airports, and other transportation infrastructure. Massport operates several port terminals in Boston, plus Logan Airport, Hanscom Field, and the Tobin Bridge. The New York/New Jersey Port Authority runs five port terminals, five airports (including JFK and La Guardia), and six bridge and tunnels. It also operates several bus terminals and waterfront properties. Both authorities generate their own revenues.

New Hampshire's quasi-public Pease Development Authority (PDA) also manages different transportation infrastructure. The legislature created PDA in 1991 to redevelop the former Pease Air Force Base, which became the Pease International Tradeport. It subsequently required PDA to manage the Market Street Marine Terminal (Portsmouth), several commercial piers, and the Skyhaven International Airport (PDA, 2009 Annual Report, December 2009).

Single-Purpose Agencies

Maine's, Pennsylvania's, and Rhode Island's port agency perform a single function. The Maine Port Authority primarily markets and promotes the state's ports, which are operated by municipal port authorities or transportation departments. The authority's website includes an “interactive tool” geared toward shippers seeking technical information about the state's ports. (The Maine Transportation Department concentrates on developing the state's major ports and provides grants for improving small harbors.)

The Philadelphia Regional Port Authority is a quasi-public state agency the legislature created in 1991 to replace the municipal Philadelphia Port Corporation when “the capital-intensive requirements to maintain and improve the Port of Philadelphia eventually outgrew the funding capabilities of the City of Philadelphia and its port agency” (www.philaport.com/history.htm). The authority markets and maintains the port, which includes privately operated terminals and a foreign trade zone. (Pennsylvania's Department of Community and Economic Development funds strategic planning, port security, and harbor improvement projects in Philadelphia, Erie, and Pittsburgh.)

Rhode Island's quasi-public Quonset Development Corporation markets and operates the Quonset Business Park, which includes the Port of Davisville, an airport, and several private businesses. (A nonprofit organization—ProvPort—owns and operates the Port of Providence.) The corporation is a subsidiary of the state's quasi-public economic development agency—the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC). RIEDC's mission includes marketing the state's ports and other transportation assets.