Duluth Seaway Port Authority to improve Garfield Dock D for future developmentWork will begin this year on a planned $14 million project to improve a dock the Duluth Seaway Port Authority bought more than 20 years ago.
By: Steve Kuchera, Duluth News Tribune
Work will begin this year on a planned $14 million project to improve a dock the Duluth Seaway Port Authority bought more than 20 years ago.
The authority’s board voted Tuesday to accept a $2 million state transportation grant for the project. The authority will match the grant with $2 million to begin the phased redevelopment of the Garfield Dock D. The work will help make the dock more attractive for future development.
The first phase of the project will include dredging to a 28-foot depth, installing piling and bollards and performing site work to prevent the collapse of existing dock walls and to prepare for the redevelopment of the entire dock.
“It’s starting to deteriorate,” said Duluth Seaway Port Authority Executive Director Adolph Ojard. “At some point, we have to do something.”
Engineering contracts for the project probably will be let in March, with actual work to begin this summer, said John Kubow, the authority’s CFO.
“This is the first phase of a multiphase project,” he said. “We’re not sure what Phase II is. It might be bringing a rail line in.”
Timing of future phases depends in part on the fate of an authority application for a $10 million federal transportation grant. The U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to award $500 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants. The current round of grants is known as TIGER IV, because it is the fourth time the grants have been available. The authority unsuccessfully applied each of the previous times.
“It’s a matter of dusting off our last application,” Ojard said of applying again. The authority should know later this year if its most recent application is successful.
The authority doesn’t have an immediate use or client in mind for the site. The plan is to first stabilize and upgrade the site, and then prepare it for a number of possible uses by installing rail lines, cranes and other equipment and facilities.
“We want to make it as flexible as possible,” Ojard said of the site. “We don’t want to limit its use.”
The authority bought Docks C and D from Cargill in 1989.
“We bought it for a buck and we grossly overpaid,” Ojard said, since the authority ended up spending well over $1 million to demolish the grain elevators on the site.
The redevelopment project will displace one business, Great Lakes Towing Co. The tugboat service uses part of Dock D under a five-year lease running into 2015. The Authority’s board voted Tuesday to cancel the lease, which is allowed for with a 90-day notice. Great Lakes Towing Fleet Capt. Jeff Stabler didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
It is possible that Great Lakes Towing could continue to use the dock during the project by shifting to different spots along the dock as the project progresses, authority officials said.