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Ganim Wants Bridgeport To Be Regional Distribution Hub For Tesla

February 23rd, 2017 · 14 Comments · Development and Zoning, News and Events

Mayor Joe Ganim is trying to position the city as the regional distribution hub for automaker Tesla. On Wednesday the mayor submitted testimony to the state legislature’s Transportation Committee. “I told the Tesla executives when we met, I would strongly advocate for Bridgeport and our growing green-tech and clean energy industry sector to be the regional distribution hub for its electric vehicles.” Ganim supports legislation to make that happen.

Ganim’s testimony:

I want to turn now to House Bill 7097, that in essence would allow the electric car manufacturer Tesla to obtain new or used car dealer’s licenses in Connecticut.

I do not wish to wade into the debate over the direct manufacturer car sales model, or the tradition of auto dealership franchises in Connecticut.

However, here again I would like to put in a plug for Bridgeport–Connecticut’s largest city, and home to many new and used car dealerships.

Demand for hybrid and fully electric cars is growing worldwide, nationwide and especially in our region.

Fairfield county and other areas of Connecticut are definitely a fertile ground for the sales of emissions-free Tesla vehicles.

Whether this General Assembly authorizes the direct sales of Tesla in Connecticut or not, consumers in our state want the ability to buy these cars.

I had a meeting recently with several top executives at Tesla and our municipal team in Bridgeport and it is clear to me that Tesla’s market is growing in New England and the demand for their vehicles is going up as drivers look to drive more environmentally sustainable vehicles and cut their own fuel costs.

Tesla is going to need to find a way to distribute its cars to the growing New England market in an efficient way and it is clear that this means a distribution center for vehicles in our region north of New York City.

Tesla also clearly stated that it has its eye on the Connecticut market not only for direct sales of cars, but also as a gateway base of distribution to Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Maine and Vermont.

And here again, as I told the Tesla executives when we met, I would strongly advocate for Bridgeport and our growing green-tech and clean energy industry sector to be the regional distribution hub for its electric vehicles.

Bridgeport has industrial space that is close to a deep water port, rail lines and highways and could provide ease of transit for Tesla’s vehicles to be distributed to sales locations.

This is a need Tesla has whether or not direct sales are permitted in Connecticut, because sales are already happening all over New England, and that is expected to increase once the newer, less expensive model 3 comes on the consumer market.

I would point out that when this legislation was in front of the General Assembly last year, as negotiations came to a head, Tesla offered to located a regional distribution center for its vehicles in Connecticut, bringing nearly 200 permanent jobs with it.

Since the failure of this legislation to pass, Tesla is now looking at other states to do regional distribution for the Northeast–such as Pennsylvania.

This would be very inconvenient for truck traffic having to drive through both crowded New Jersey roads and New York City before even arriving in the New England market.

Tesla knows this and has done the calculations, and that is why the company still very much has its eyes on locating its northeast regional distribution center in Connecticut.

And if that is the case, I would say:  Why not Bridgeport?

>The city with a growing green-technology and clean energy cluster, plenty of industrial space and easy access to multiple modes of transportation would be a perfect fit for a hub for these zero-emissions vehicles.

The economic development to come from the jobs created by housing this distribution center in Bridgeport is something our urban area badly needs, and this could be compounded by providing more potential work to regional suppliers to support this growing and cutting-edge industry.

So for these reasons, for driverless vehicle testing and as a future home for zero emissions electric cars–I would urge consideration of Bridgeport as a center of innovation and testing.

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14 Comments so far ↓

  • Steven Auerbach

    Good job! Now let’s see if they were listening!

  • Lisa Parziale

    I give the Mayor credit for his attempt to pursue and maybe accomplish this. That’s all I have to say. I’m his greatest critic when necessary, but I will commend him when warranted.

  • Bob Walsh

    There are enough empty car dealerships that can be had for a pittance.

  • Frank Gyure

    In general, this idea of using Bridgeport Harbor as a “gateway” to the Northeast seems like a good idea but it has been floated before for many years. Two questions; does Bridgeport Harbor have the infrastructure ready to take on that role and there is the continuing question of dredging Bridgeport Harbor allowing larger ships to port.

  • DC Faber

    On September 6, 2015 Senator Richard Blumenthal announced a plan to dredge Bridgeport Harbor for the first time in decades.

    any day now …

    connecticut.news12.com/multimedia/officials-unveil-plan-to-dredge-bridgeport-harbor-1.10814137

    • Frank Gyure

      my understanding is the States of Connecticut and New York are at loggerheads as to where to put the dredged materials. The money is there and waiting until the two states decide where to put it in Long Island Sound.

      • Frank Gyure

        New Federal Long Island Sound Dredging Plan Divides Connecticut and New York
        Gregory B. Hladky Contact Reporter
        Should material dredged from Connecticut harbors be dumped in Long Island Sound?
        HARTFORD — No one doubts that some Connecticut seaports and marinas need serious dredging if they hope to survive, but the issue of what to do with the muck that’s brought up has created a divide wider than Long Island Sound.

        A 30-year dredging plan released last month by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been greeted by applause on the Connecticut side of the Sound and angry denunciations from New York.

        The big point of controversy is where to put tens of millions of cubic yards of sand and sediment expected to be dredged up over the next three decades, and how much different disposal methods might cost.

        Federal officials say it’s environmentally and economically reasonable to continue dumping most of it in four mid-Sound disposal areas — a decision Connecticut officials fully support. Connecticut’s shoreline economy could suffer tens of millions of dollars in lost economic activity without dredging, local officials warn.

        New York agencies, lawmakers and environmentalists insist the new federal plan essentially ignores the intent of a 2005 agreement between the two states to end disposal of dredged materials in the open waters of the Sound.

        Connecticut officials argue there was never any formal agreement to end mid-Sound disposal of this sludge. They point out that the 2005 letter signed by then-New York Gov. George Pataki and then-Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell only set the “goal of reducing or eliminating the need for open water disposal.”

        “We didn’t think [complete elimination of open-water disposal] was practical,” said George Wisker, an environmental analyst with Connecticut’s Office of Long Island Sound Programs. He said completely ending the use of those mid-Sound disposal sites “was not something we saw as actually feasible.”

        “I think [the new federal disposal plan] is an attempt to really try to comply with the intent of the two states when they signed that letter a number of years ago,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District. Courtney called it “totally unrealistic” to think that open-water disposal sites wouldn’t be needed, and said he believes federal officials “have done a good job of balancing the economic and environmental realities.”

        The western-most disposal site is off Darien; the central site is opposite New Haven; the Cornfield Shoals disposal location is between the mouth of the Connecticut River and Long Island’s North Fork; and the eastern disposal site is off New London.

        Connecticut officials say the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now has about three months to create formal rules for implementing the Army Corps of Engineers’ plan. Wisker said major changes in the plan aren’t expected, despite the protests from New York.

        The new federal plan does call for alternative methods of disposing of dredged sand and mud when possible. Courtney said his reading of the plan is that there “is a bias built in” that favors alternative disposal methods such as beach and wetlands restoration.

        “This plan identifies a range of environmentally sound alternatives for the handling of materials created by dredging projects,” Robert Klee, Connecticut’s commissioner of energy and environmental protection, said in a statement, “including beneficial uses such as beach nourishment and marsh restoration, as well as continued use of open water sites in Long Island Sound.”

        “Much of the sediment taken from Connecticut waterways is fine-grained, however,” Klee added, “and since reuse alternatives often are not feasible, open water sites must remain available for the foreseeable future.”

        The cost of those alternative disposal methods is usually “more time consuming, more costly” than simply dumping it in those mid-Sound sites, according to Curt Johnson, executive director of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment and Save the Sound.

        The nonprofit Save the Sound is in a delicate situation regarding the dredging controversy. It’s a dual-state environmental organization with members in New York and Connecticut, and Johnson’s comments on the Army Corps of Engineers’ plan reflects the complex nature of the situation.

        “This is not just a Connecticut story, it’s a New York story too,” said Johnson. He said his group recognizes that some dredged materials may need to be carefully disposed of in open-water locations, but wants a far greater emphasis placed on finding and using environmentally safer alternatives.

        “Let’s not close down the open-water disposal,” said Johnson, “but we have to move toward beneficial reuse” of dredged sand and silt. He added that failure to use such materials to revive eroded marshes, islands and dunes can also have long-term costs. Restored shoreline areas can act as buffers during major storms, easing flooding problems and protecting inland areas, he said.

        Other environmental groups, including the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, have flatly condemned the continued disposal of dredged material in the open-water sites, comparing it to using the Sound as a garbage dump.

        Adding to the difficulty of finding alternative disposal methods is the problem that lots of the materials dredged up from places like Bridgeport’s harbor are not suitable for environmentally sensitive areas like salt marshes and beaches. Toxic sludge from dredging can’t legally be disposed of in the Sound, Wisker points out, and must be trucked to landfills or treatment centers.

        But federal experts reported that less polluted materials can be shipped out to the four open-water sites, dumped and then safely capped with clean sand and other materials.

        Johnson said studies have found “short-term impacts” on the Sound’s environment from such open-water disposal operations. “But we haven’t seen signs or evidence of long-term damage,” he added.

        In putting together the new plan, federal experts looked at every potential dredging project on both sides of the Sound and estimated the total amount of material in need of disposal could reach 52 million cubic yards. Wisker said that, because of expected funding shortages, the actual amount of sand and silt that is likely to be dredged up is “one-third to one-half” of the overall total.

        The differing New York-versus-Connecticut attitudes about dredge disposal results in part from the reality that most of the questionable sludge will come from Connecticut’s side of the Sound. Long Island doesn’t have any of the major industrial harbors like Bridgeport or New Haven that are likely to need deeper shipping channels, and the costs of dredging Connecticut harbors is likely to be far more expensive than smaller projects on the Long Island side.

        By one federal estimate, the dredging plan for Bridgeport’s harbor could cost about $40 million. The last time Bridgeport’s shipping channels were mucked out was in 1964.

        A proposal several years ago to dump some slightly contaminated sludge from Bridgeport’s waters off a section of New Haven’s shoreline drew heated protests from New Haven residents.

        It’s not clear how much of the cost of dredging would be covered by the federal government, and how much by states, municipalities and local businesses like marinas. Connecticut recently set aside $20 million for dredging projects over the next five years.

        Courtney said the Navy has also made it clear that substantial dredging will be needed through New London to keep the channel open and “submarine traffic viable” to the Navy sub base in the Thames River.

        The dredging issue has also created a rift between several of this region’s members of Congress who are normally allied on environmental issues.

        U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York has condemned the Army Corps of Engineers’ plan and said he’ll push federal environmental officials to revise the dredging disposal rules. But Schumer’s fellow Democrats from Connecticut, like U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, are in favor of the plan.

        • Frank Gyure

          I’m sorry I had to copy and paste the entire article. For the life of me, I don’t know how to copy and paste just a link to a newspaper article. Grrr!

  • Bob Walsh

    They just haven’t figured out what to do with what they dredge.
    Even people don’t want our dredge!

  • Bob Walsh

    Joe is just doing this to reincarnate the Port Authority.
    Then the city will be able to take properties by eminent domain without getting involved with legalities and what not.
    OMG … Only In Bridgeport

    • John Marshall Lee

      Bob,
      Have you seen any reports from the Port Authority, a quasi city body, in the past six months? Have you seen any financial reports detailing revenues, expenses since 2008? Does anybody have a balance sheet showing listed values for assets, liabilities, and outstanding responsibilities for this agency? Why not? Time will tell.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Way to go, Joe! That’s the type of company, with all its related operations, we want to bring to Bridgeport and be identified with. Excellent!

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Ganim, how about using Remington Woods for this car manufacturer?

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