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A Hummel Report Investigation

Question 5

Rhode Island voters will be asked next month to approve a $70 million bond issue - with a total cost of $112 million - for improvements to the port of Davisville at Quonset, as well as land acquisition to expand ProvPort, which is running out of space along the Providence waterfront. This week Jim Hummel takes a closer look at the proposal and checks in with Save the Bay, which had some initial concerns about the General Assembly’s handling of the legislation paving the way for the November referendum.


It is concrete almost as far as the eye can see, and sometimes you have to remind yourself this is actually a pier and not part of the mainland.
Welcome to Pier 2 at Davisville within the Quonset Business Park.
Voters next month will be asked to approve a $70 million bond - $50 million of which would upgrade the 16-acre pier, where nearly a quarter of a million vehicles arrived last year; and every month larger cargo, such as these wind turbines, arrive by ship from other countries.
Twenty miles to the north this ship is loading used cars bound for West Africa from a pier at ProvPort, along a 2/3 of a mile-stretch of the Providence River off Allens Avenue.
The remaining $20 million of the $70 million bond would go toward land acquisition for ProvPort. Quite simply: the corporation has run out of space along the waterfront.
Black: ``This is an opportunity to invest in Rhode Island’s ports, which have already proven successful economic engines for the state.’’
Gavin Black is president of the Rhode Island Ports Coalition, which is lobbying for approval of the $70 million bond: Question #5 on this year’s ballot. With interest, the total cost to taxpayers would be just over $112 million.
Black: ``We are in the game and we have been in the game and we’ve been very successful in the game already, both in Quonset and at ProvPort, but to stay in the game and capture future opportunities, we need to invest now.’’
Black says Providence and Quonset are competing with ports up and down the Eastern Seaboard, which have made substantial infrastructure improvements. Another factor: the Panama Canal just completed a decade-long $5 billion expansion project that will mean larger ships like this one and more feeder ships with assorted cargo heading this way. He noted that more than 90 percent of all cargo worldwide travels by water.


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