Rendering of Mohawk Northeast’s plans for an $18.5 million marine facility on the banks of the River Thames off Eastern Avenue in New London. (Contributed by Mohawk North East)
New London ― The US Department of Transportation has awarded a $7 million grant to help fund the construction of an $18.5 million industrial marine complex along the banks of the River Thames.
Money will benefit Northeast Mohawka heavy construction and engineering company with a marine services division based in Groton, which intends to build a marine terminal and metal fabrication plant just north of the Gold Star Memorial Bridge in New London.
The city, in partnership with Mohawk and with the support of its Connecticut delegation to Congress, applied for funding from US DOT US Maritime Association Port Infrastructure Development Grant Program. Perseverance paid off as this was the third time the city applied for funding.
On Monday, Mohawk elected officials and representatives gathered at Mohawk property off Lewis Street for a celebration of the news.
WE. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, US Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Mohawk Northeast President Allan Heinke and Vice President David Schill, State Rep. Anthony Nolan, D-New London, Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut President Tony Sheridan and New London Mayor Michael Passero were among those present.
“It will now really up New London’s game as a very dynamic stakeholder and player in the 21st century maritime economy,” Courtney said.
Passero said he is thrilled the Mohawks are coming to town with an investment idea that should create at least 100 jobs and help sustain what is an economically depressed area of town.
Schill explained that Mohawk had searched for years for a place to expand its operations in Groton. He had used the New London property and warehouses, but found the water in the area too shallow to be used for anything other than shallow draft barges to transport materials and equipment.
“With rail access and water access, we thought developing this property would be something we would want to push forward,” Schill said.
The proposed bulkhead will be 500 feet wide and extend 150 feet from shore. Mohawk plans to dredge the channel to a jetty to accommodate larger vessels, such as barges that unload equipment and bulk materials. The upland site, which already houses a metal fabrication plant, will also be further developed.
The Mohawk property is the site of the old Thames River Lumber Company, which once had a pier, but it burned down and was never rebuilt after World War II, Schill said.
“It has a history of being used for maritime trade. We are just re-establishing that history,” Schill said.
Along with the shoreline expansion, there will be a rail spur to help move materials to and from the site. The property – Mohawk has three acres – straddles the railroad tracks and connects directly to the adjacent state pier, which is being rebuilt by the Connecticut Port Authority to help accommodate the offshore wind industry.
“As offshore wind develops, that’s when things will really start to blossom here,” Schill said.
Paul Whitescarver, executive director of the Southeast Connecticut Enterprise Region, said this is one of many ongoing projects on the Thames from Montville to New London that will benefit the entire region. .
The $7 million for the project is part of $701 million awarded nationwide to 41 projects in 21 states and one territory. The funding was made possible in part by an injection of funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and other appropriations from Congress, Courtney said.
In addition to New London, the Bridgeport Port Authority has received $10.5 million for the design and construction of an operations and maintenance wind port in Bridgeport. Nearly $100 million of federal funds have been awarded to projects advancing offshore wind development.
Mohawk, which already has a fleet of barges, cranes and tugs, serves large customers including the Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts Departments of Transportation, Electric Boat, the US Coast Guard, Amtrak and the US Navy.
Mohawk has pledged $11.5 million for the project and is awaiting final permit approvals for the work from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the US Army Corps of Engineers. Schill said once permits are in place, he estimates the project will take about two years.