Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings and other area elected officials held a press conference to deliver a progress report on the stimulus and state funding used for massive capital improvement at the Port of Albany including replacing wharfs, extending rail lines and expanding heavy lift capacity.
A combination of New York State Department of Transportation “Rebuild NY Bond Act of 2003,” American Recovery and Re-investment Act and Albany Port District Commission funding have financed a two phase wharf reconstruction that will enable the Port to more efficiently and effectively handle project cargo/heavy lift.
“The staff and longshoreman at the Port have an expertise not found at every port,” said Albany Mayor Gerald Jennings. “Our Port’s expertise in handling project cargo such as oversized turbines or windmill equipment from General Electric is now enhanced because of these improvements.”
Phase 1 of the project included the demolition and reconstruction of existing wharf that was built in 1927. The new $7.6 million wharf replaces the old wooden structure with a wharf made of steel and concrete pilings, a new concrete/asphalt deck and a new heavy lift rail line. The work which began in March 2009 is being done by CD Perry & Sons, out of Troy, who won the competitive bid. It is scheduled to be completed by January 2011.
“This new wharf adds two more berths capable of loading heavy cargo for international shipping,” said New York State Senator Neil Breslin. “This project created 60 new construction jobs for the Capital Region and will create as many as 50 new longshoreman positions once completed.”
Phase 2 of the project extends the work presently underway an additional 310’ south along the wharf and adjacent heavy rail line. The $5 million cost is funded completely by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“This is what President Obama’s stimulus funding program is all about-strengthening an economic development engine in America’s urban areas to create new jobs and stimulate trade,” said Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari. “Once this project is complete, we’ll see even more jobs stemming from the Port.”
Congressman Paul Tonko agreed with Canestrari’s assessment saying “It’s these kinds of investments made by the Recovery Act that will help create new economic activity, encourage growth, and lead to new jobs.
These improvements will enhance the Port of Albany’s ability to handle heavy cargo and expand its role as an economic engine for our region.”
CD Perry is doing this project as well after winning a separate competitive bid. Started in January 2010, the project is estimated to be complete in October 2011.
When complete, the on-dock rail line at the Port will be connected to the main line of CSX and CP Rail which will streamline the unloading of heavy lift cargo. Previously, the cargo was brought in by train to a point just outside the Port then put onto trucks that brought the cargo to the Port’s existing rail line.
“Having the Port’s rail line link up directly with CSX and CP Rail will be a great asset for the Port when marketing its services to new prospective customers,” said Assemblyman Jack McEneny. “When this project is complete, the Port will be able to load and unload four heavy lift ships at one time and still be able to handle scrap metal ships as well as ships carrying commodities such as grain and wood pulp.”
As an economic development engine for the region, the Port not only impacts jobs regionally but adds 4,570 full times jobs throughout New York State and has a total economic impact of $813 million.
“I am pleased to see stimulus funds at work here in Albany County,” said Albany County Executive Mike Breslin. “This critical funding will develop the Port of Albany into an even more preeminent hub of commerce, bringing new jobs and economic activity to our region.”