$5.2 million secured for improvements project at Port of Galilee
The following press release from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management was shared to The Block Island Times on Saturday, Oct. 17:
The Rhode Island Congressional Delegation and General Treasurer Seth Magaziner joined Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Director Janet Coit in launching a $5.2 million project to make much-needed improvements at the Port of Galilee. The work will center on the North Bulkhead section of the state port where heavy-duty commercial fishing piers will be demolished and replaced, bulkhead asphalt repaired, and electrical supply upgraded. Slightly more than $3.5 million in Rhode Island Capital Plan funds, secured by the Rhode Island General Assembly, DEM, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and a $1.7 million US Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant obtained by the Congressional Delegation will capitalize the project.
Around 200 commercial fishermen landed 48 million pounds of seafood, valued at $66 million, at Galilee in 2019. The seafood and fisheries industry supports 4,300 jobs across all economic sectors and provides nearly $420 million in economic impact, according to a 2017 study conducted by the University of Rhode Island for the Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation.
“Investing in the Port of Galilee will help ensure that it not only remains one of Rhode Island’s major job engines, but also an economic hub and way of life for commercial fishermen and their families,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “I am grateful to our Congressional Delegation for fighting for federal dollars and the General Assembly, DEM, and OMB for securing the state funding that’s driving these critical improvements at Galilee.”
“Commercial fishing can be a tough business and COVID-19 and ill-advised trade wars have made it even tougher. I’m pleased to have helped secure federal funding for this project, which makes a crucial investment in our infrastructure and supports our fishermen and all those who contribute to our state’s seafood industry. Infrastructure projects in Rhode Island, constructed by local companies, create jobs, bolster our economy, and strengthen our resilience,” said US Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee.
"The working port of Galilee has been the busy hub of one of Rhode Island's most important industries for generations," said US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who brought together regional EDA representatives and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management officials to discuss infrastructure improvements at the Port on several occasions in recent years. "I will keep fighting for federal dollars to ensure Galilee is fully equipped to support our hardworking fishermen."
“My Rhode Island congressional colleagues and I recognize the Port of Galilee’s contributions to the local economy and our communities, and we are proud to support the realization of these important improvements with federal funds,” said US Congressman Jim Langevin. “The enhancements made possible with support from our state partners will help meet the needs of our fishermen and will increase the resiliency of the port to climate change by reducing the likelihood of storm damage. I look forward to gathering again to celebrate the completion of this phase of the North Bulkhead Rehabilitation Project, and I remain ready to support Rhode Island’s fishermen, now and in the future.”
“The Port of Galilee is already one of the largest and busiest ports on the East Coast, providing more than 2,000 good-paying jobs in the seafood and fisheries industries, which help generate more than $400 million in economic activity each year,” said US Congressman David Cicilline. “I’m pleased that, thanks in large part to a $1.7 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management will be able to support hundreds of new jobs demolishing and replacing heavy-duty piers, repairing, and upgrading electrical infrastructure.”
“This infrastructure investment at the Port of Galilee is vital to the continued success of Rhode Island’s commercial fishing industry,” said General Treasurer Seth Magaziner. “Our reputation for high quality seafood is well-known and the fishing industry supports jobs across the Ocean State.”
“Few places take a bigger beating than a port, which experiences tide, wind, waves, sun, storm surges, and other conditions,” said DEM Director Coit. “The North Bulkhead section of Galilee has been showing its age and wear-and-tear for years now, but with this work will undergo essential repairs. DEM looks forward to working with Governor Raimondo, the Congressional Delegation, and the General Assembly to secure additional financing to continue our sustained, multi-year investment in Galilee.”
The work performed in a port is demanding and complex. It requires speed and a vast network of supporting infrastructure – electricity, water distribution, ice and refrigeration, wastewater discharge, septage, engine and equipment repair, cleaning, garbage and waste collection, etc. – to unload, handle, process, store, and market fish and seafood.
In Phase 1 of the North Bulkhead rehabilitation project, DEM is concentrating on the facilities that are in the greatest need of repair, according to an assessment report prepared by the project engineer, the Pare Corp. Work will begin at the commercial fishing piers just north of the Block Island Ferry (State Pier 3). The work will involve demolishing and replacing three heavy-duty piers – AA, BB, and CC – that serve as open berthing for the offshore fleet. These are the biggest ships in Galilee, 60 to 100 feet long, that land the most fish. As well, the project includes asphalt repair work from Dock CC down to State Pier 3 and electrical upgrades throughout the northern section of the port, from State Pier 3 to Dock UU. (See fact sheet accompanying this release.)
A related project, using a separate source of funding, involves the partial demolition and reconstruction of Dock X, also known as the “Ice Dock.” This is a critical project on its own for two reasons: 1) Dock X is one of the port’s heavy-duty docks used to accommodate the berthing of large vessels, and 2) it is on this dock that Seafreeze Ltd. provides ice to all fishermen needing it, thus allowing for the safe transport of fresh, high-quality seafood landed at Galilee to markets around the world. The repair of Dock X was made possible by an emergency authorization of $280,000 by OMB.
Using a $2.9M EDA grant secured by the Congressional Delegation and millions of dollars more through RICAP funding, DEM previously oversaw the rehabilitation of the port’s South Bulkhead area from Champlin’s Seafood to the Block Island Ferry terminal at State Pier 3. In Phases 2 and 3 of the North Bulkhead rehabilitation, DEM envisions significant replacement of various sections of the steel bulkhead, which is old and has exceeded its useful life, along with additional dock replacements and other infrastructure work.