The $ 300 Million Hangover

Henry Holcomb’s article in The Philadelphia Inquirer last week started out like this:

“$ 300 million bond issue to aid Phila. ports”

“With longshoremen cheering and waving thank-you signs,” the article began, “Gov. Rendell declared yesterday that the bistate agreement to deepen the Delaware River clears the way for $ 300 million in public investment for the city’s seaport …

“The $ 300 million port bond issue will finance a slew of port improvements — something for every major maritime interest on the waterfront,” the article reported.

According to an earlier report issued on May 17th from the Pennsylvania Office of the Governor by Mr. Doug Rohanna, the planned improvements include:
• Pier Rehabilitation — Upgrades to Piers 38, 40, 80 and 82 to secure infrastructure and extend the life of the piers;
• Pier 82 upgrades — Upgrades to Pier 82 infrastructure to increase competitiveness in attracting 52-ship-per-year account to this facility;
• Tioga Marine Terminal — Extend the crane rail for the container cranes and build a 100,000-square-foot warehouse for the Chilean fruit business;
• Pier 74 Annex Warehouse — Develop 200,000-square-foot warehouse for paper products;
• Astro Holdings/Packer Avenue Marine Terminal — Construct two gantry cranes, crane rail extension, crane electrification and expansion of a refrigerated warehouse;
• PennCity/ Brown — Demolition and construction of a new warehouse on Pier 80;
• Dependable Distribution — Construction of a 100,000-square-foot, on-site warehouse for additional storage of cocoa beans;
• Camden Iron & Metal — Support the purchase of Schuylkill Pier 3, located at Girard Point, and build a facility for scrap metal and other potential bulk cargo; and
• Emerson Landfill/Victory Gardens — Support the purchase of land to relocate an existing tenant from Pier 3, so to enhance a marketable bulk terminal facility there.

Mr. Holcomb’s article also pointed out, however, that Brian Preski, chairman of the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority and a lawyer with Wolf, Block, Schorr & Solis-Cohen L.L.P. said that the bond issue was still being planned and that cost estimates were not available for each project.

When these estimates do become available, some surprises are in store for dredging enthusiasts. Simply put, that measly $ 300 million will not cover the ‘slew of port improvements’ listed above;
• plus the cost of dredging …
• plus the cost of transporting the ‘spoils’ throughout Pennsylvania communities …
• plus the $ 180 million for the new Regional Produce Market …

[Now about the 100,000 new jobs that were being applauding … how will they come about?]