Better berthing in Bayonne
The Bayonne cruise port will be a big winner in the federal earmarks sweepstakes if Rep. Albio Sires, D-West New York, has his way.
Topping a lengthy list of Bayonne pork that Sires has proposed for inclusion in the federal budget is $7.1 million in “Defense Department Appropriations” targeted for the Bayonne Local Redevelopment Authority.
As described in Sires’ earmark proposal, the BLRA would use the money to “construct/stabilize 1,380 feet of decaying bulkhead and eroding shoreline of the N-2 berth area of (the) former MOTBY (Military Ocean Terminal at Bayonne) in the first phase of Berth N-2 restoration.”
That rebuilt berth – combined with the recently completed $9.5 million extension of the N-1 berth platform to accommodate the Royal Caribbean International cruise line – would make available about 2,600 feet of “functional berthing capacity on the Bayonne side of the Port Jersey Channel for large military ships and other federal vessels in the event of national defense emergency,” Sires’ proposal says.
Sires’ proposal says the project goes hand-in-hand with the $200 million federal investment in deepening the Port Jersey Channel and “would generate 1,750 maritime-related jobs and $150 million annually for the regional economy.”
BLRA Executive Director Christopher Patella couldn’t be reached, but Anthony Caputo, RCI port manager, said that the N-2 berth could use beefing up.
“It sits on top of a Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission outfall,” Caputo said. “Its metal sheathing is stable, but it does need reinforcing.”
Caputo said the berth’s reconstruction “would give us the capacity to dock two ships at the same time.”
In the interim, Caputo said, “We’ve been trying to attract other businesses, such as other cruise lines, but the overall Port of New York has lost cruise calls to places like Baltimore and to foreign competition,” he said.
Ultimately, it would be up to the BLRA to decide how the extra space should be utilized, Caputo said. “In the long run, getting this money will mean great potential for the (Bayonne) port.”
By RONALD LEIR
The Jersey Journal