PAR: B.U.I.L.D. Bucks to Save Portsmouth Wharf

Upgrades to Market Street Terminal Will Prevent Imminent Closure, Improve Vessel Capacity, Cargo Handling, Transportation Access, znd Opportunities.

06 December, Portsmouth NH – Pease Development Authority Division of Ports and Harbors (PDA-DPH) Market Street Marine Terminal Main Wharf Rehabilitation project was awarded $7,504,854 to be combined with $5 million in state matching funds (via PDA) to rehabilitate approximately 17,500 ft 2 of the main wharf by replacing the deteriorating wharf access bridge, and decking open areas. {USDOT Announcement, 11.Dec.2018}


DPH Director Geno Marconi said the wharf rehabilitation is vital for the present and future of the port: “Recently, we have turned away a project cargo customer because we could not get the appropriate equipment on the dock to service the ship” { ANRP Conversation with GM, 12.Dec.18}. And by 2121, Marconi and marine engineers anticipate that, without these improvements, the wharf will have to be shut down completely {FY2018 BUILD Grant Application}.


Portsmouth, NH: Market Street Terminal plays many roles as major site for salt imports, project cargo, etc., the State of New Hampshire’s preeminent port facility, safety support for upstream petroleum facilities, and extra set of “eyes” for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard across the bay. The facility has degraded, and its flexibility and efficiency have been hampered by new SML bridge alignment, {PDA-DPH; annotated by ANRP }.

Regional opportunities

Two prospects made possible by the rehabbed wharf include Nova Scotia ferry service, and improving year-round coastal container ferry service, which is currently limited by seasonal and capacity conditions at Portland, ME and St. John { ibid }.


New SML bridge hampers wharf

The Port of New Hampshire traditionally has balanced the demands of visiting vessels between two wharves, the Main Wharf and the adjacent Barge Wharf. This allowed the port to sustain short outages of the Main Wharf during inspections and repair of the aging docking facility. Historically, the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge bisected the port between the two docking facilities. The ne SML bridge alignment bisects the Barge Wharf with bridge piers and new rail line, making this facility permanently unavailable for barge berthing. This dramatic change at the port increases pressure on the Main Wharf serving now as the only berthing facility at the Port. As part of the Federal Highway Administration’s “Functional Replacement,” for what was lost, the Port has gained an additional two acres and two piers are now connected to the Main Wharf. The project has started and the Port is in the design and permitting phase. The FHWA investment, however, did not address the lack of decking between these two piers { ibid }.


No rail expansion, yet.

While the port retains the tail that approached the old Sarah Mildred Long bridge (dismantled), and a small eastern spur off the Newington Industrial track, the current wharf improvement project will only level the ramped alignment for the obsolete SML approach. “I wish I would have been able to include rail improvements in the BUILD application,” said Marconi. But after several failed Federal funding attempts, Marconi limited the project scope to the imperative need to save the wharf itself, before it becomes unusable. While rail access still exists, it isn’t really integral to how the wharf operates. “I’d like to see us expand that service as well,” said Marconi {Conversation with GM}.