Governor Dannel Malloy has signed into law a bill that will create a comprehensive port authority for the state of Connecticut.
Connecticut is a maritime state, but in recent years, it hasn’t always acted like one on the international stage. “Connecticut has not been active enough in marketing our ports in the global marketplace,” said Tim Sullivan, director of waterfront development for the Department of Economic and Community Development.
Sullivan said the state’s three deep water ports, Bridgeport, New Haven, and New London, have seen 80 percent declines in the volume of imports since 2006, hence the move to create a port authority that will coordinate investment and development at all three locations.
Governor Dannel Malloy said that it’s about presenting a united front to the outside world. “Quite frankly, on the international side, they don’t get why a small state with three potential deep water ports, why they would have to deal with different organizations in each community,” he said.
"Get that right, and our own companies might even begin to use our ports," Malloy said, nodding to United Technologies, a recent recipient of generous state tax breaks. “If we saw major traffic into this port from Europe, it’s not inconceivable that we would see other companies using this port to ship things like jet engines,” he said.
The governor signed the legislation on the top deck of a ferry docked on the New London waterfront.
With Malloy was Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, who said it’s about promoting what should be a natural competitive advantage for the state. “We can be, through our ports and through the rest of our infrastructure investment, we can be the alternative to the New York Port Authority and Boston,” he said.
The plight of the city they were in shows just how far that dream is from realization. New London Mayor Justin Finizio welcomed the legislation, but warned, “we are one of the only deep water port cities in the world that is economically disadvantaged — that needs to change.”
The quasi-public port authority will operate like the recently created airport authority, and will be governed by a 15-member board. It will come into being in October 2015.