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Op-Ed: TIGER Grant Puts Even More Rhode Islanders to Work at Quonset

Quonset's managing director gives an update on the business park.

The Internet can move information anywhere at the speed of light, but another network is responsible for transporting everything from the food we eat to the cars we drive to the clothes we wear. That’s the global logistics network, and we at Quonset have long believed that our success as a driver of regional job growth depends on how well we establish ourselves as a key node on it.

With 8,800 people working at 168 companies, the Quonset Business Park is already a leading driver of job growth in Rhode Island.  We are home to one out of every 50 jobs in Rhode Island.  Further, we just learned that the Port of Davisville was the 8th largest auto importer in North America last year, and the second fastest growing auto importer.

Last fall, we took another big step forward when $22.3 million was transferred to Quonset as part of a TIGER grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation. This was the result of the effort and foresight of our U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and the entire Rhode Island Congressional delegation.  These grants will position Quonset to be a leader in renewable energy manufacturing and a participant in the new U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) Marine Highway Northeast Corridor. Now we are in the process of implementing the grant and adding major infrastructure assets to those already here.

The centerpiece of the TIGER work will be a new port crane. The mobile harbor crane will bring a new dimension to Quonset’s capabilities at the Port of Davisville. Already a leader in roll on/roll off (RoRo) activity in the auto import business, Quonset will be poised to manage staging activities for offshore wind construction and to handle cargo for short sea shipping activity as well as other break bulk cargoes. The project remains on track for completion in 2012.

The platform for the crane on Pier 2 has cleared the engineering and permitting phases, and is poised for construction. Beams will be added to the pier for strengthening, and a new base for the crane will be built. Bids are currently being solicited for the work, and we expect construction to begin in the coming weeks.

Pier 1 (South Pier) and Terminals 4 and 5 are slated for important upgrades and also have permits in hand. Work will soon be underway there to repair lighting, make structural concrete repairs and upgrade fenders. Over the winter, five engineering firms from Rhode Island have been busy with Quonset TIGER permitting and planning activity. They are the Maguire GroupGZA and Garofalo & Associates, all of Providence, GRA Engineering of Pawtucket and Paul Aldinger & Associates of East Providence.

The first project already under construction is rail improvements in the port area. Quonset is already home to robust rail traffic, especially through the auto import business located here, but this work will allow for more kinds of activity. Railroad track, ballast and ties have already been installed in the Pier 2 area from Davisville Rd. to the NORAD switch. This improves access to on-dock rail as well as to the existing processing and export business activity.

In addition to the TIGER grant activity, other federal funds made available via the Economic Development Administration (EDA) are improving Quonset. A new overpass lifting Romano Vineyard Way over Davisville Road and the parallel rail line will allow rail and truck freight to move unimpeded to major arteries.

With the work made possible through the TIGER grant and other federal investments, we expect Quonset to be home to even more jobs – an estimated 500 to 800 in addition to the 8,800 already based at the park. But more importantly, the infrastructure we’re building will broaden the services offered here, making Quonset a creator of more private sector jobs at the park and throughout Rhode Island.

 

-Steven King, Quonset Development Corporation's Managing Director


ABOUT THE QUONSET DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

The Quonset Development Corporation (QDC) manages the Quonset Business Park, home to 168 companies with 8,800 employees, including one of the Top 10 auto ports in North America.  A special purpose subsidiary of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, the quasi public QDC develops and manages the Business Park in accordance with the QDC Land Use Plan and in the best interests of the citizens of Rhode Island to attract and retain successful businesses that provide high quality jobs. For more information go to www.qdcri.com.

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