NEW BEDFORD — With a green light from the EPA, the city is poised to win a $15 million federal TIGER grant to at last begin bulkhead construction and dredging at the harbor’s under-used North Terminal, to expand its uses and take some off the pressure off of the rest of the harbor, which is straining at capacity.
Port Director Edward Anthes-Washburn told The Standard-Times that a TIGER grant — which stands for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery — ought to be winnable this year now that uncertainties about environmental permitting have been eliminated in an official EPA ruling. The grant application last year was denied because of those unresolved concerns about the permitting. He said that the EPA notified the city only a week and a half ago that the project is officially permitted, dredging and bulkhead included.
That EPA judgment opened the door of opportunity for this year’s application for a project that will have far-reaching implications for the fishing industry and freight — possibly including both international shipping and freight service to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. The latter was a serious bone of contention several years ago, and never fully resolved. Truck traffic congestion is unabated on Woods Hole Road, where for years some residents have sought relief in the form of diverting freight to New Bedford to ease the pressure on Cape Cod.