A $70 million bond issue that would fund improvements at the Port of Davisville at Quonset and Providence Port, is expected to add cargo traffic and jobs at both ports, according to a coalition that is supporting the bond.

“This bond issue is about the future success of our ports, adding jobs and bringing more cargo to both ports,” said Gavin Black, president of the Rhode Island Ports Coalition. He said it will also keep the ports competitive with Connecticut and Massachusetts, which have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on port improvements.

Specifically, Black talks about the robust auto import business at Davisville, among the top 15 nationally that has grown 547 percent over the last 20 years. The Quonset Development Corporation is projecting an increase in auto imports of 4.5 percent per year over the next six years.

What will the bond actually fund?

  • Infrastructure modernization and repairs to Pier 2 at Davisville, adding another 50 years lifespan to a pier that was built in 1956 and has already exceeded its anticipated lifespan of 50 years. Pier 2 was built on solid fill, capable of handling heavy cargoes, such as cars.
  • Adding an additional berth, capable of docking auto carriers, potentially adding 100,000 more units a year.
  • In Providence, adding up to 25 acres to the 100 acre port, preparing the land for future tenants. The additional space is needed, according to ProvPort, because the Port is currently at capacity, with the arrival of Deep Water Wind and McInnis Concrete.

Why is the bond important?

  • The added capacity at the ports, Black said, will increase the number of port jobs to about 3,000, plus nearly 1,000 jobs added during the seven year construction period. He noted that the project will be done in phases to avoid any reduction in capacity during construction.
  • Black said that because of expansion at the Panama Canal, larger ships will pass through the canal and go to ports like New York City. While Davisville and Providence won’t compete for the larger ships, Black said it opens the possibility to compete for what he called “feeder” ships, smaller vessels that will be looking for new ports. He also noted that ports in New York and New Jersey are nearing capacity, adding to the potential for added capacity in Rhode Island.
  • Opportunities increase for Providence because it is only one of two deep water ports in New England, with the other in Boston. That means, Black said, that the depth in Providence is 40 feet, five to 10 feet deeper than Davisville. Davisville, he said, is ideal for ships in which cargo can just be rolled off or on, which defines the auto import business.

What is the actual cost?

  • The Davisville portion includes $50 million from the $70 million bond; a $15 million appropriation from the sate’s Capital Plan Fund; and a $25 million revenue bond that will be repaid by the Quonset Development Corporation and port users.
  • ProvPort portion of the bond is $20 million.
  • According to the Secretary of State’s office, the actual cost of the total bond, with interest, is $112,210,962. That breaks down as $70 million for principal and $42,210,962 in interest. The interest rate is assumed to be 5 percent, paid in level payments over 20 years.

WhatsUpNewp and What’sUpRhode Island  arei profiling each of the statewide referenda, in what promises to be a spirited election from the presidency to local public offices and local issues. ICYMI, here are two previous stories that we’ve published –

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Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal. Prosnitz began his journalism career as a sportswriter at the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, moving to The News Tribune (Woodbridge, NJ), before joining the Providence Journal. Prosnitz hosts the Morning Show on WLBQ radio (Westerly), 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and It’s Your Business, also on WBLQ, Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Prosnitz has twice won Best in Business Awards from the national Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), twice was named Media Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration, won an investigative reporter’s award from the New England Press Association, and newswriting award from the Rhode Island Press Association.