A High-Speed Ferry Terminal Comes to Bridgeport
The Interstate 95 and Metro North transportation corridors in Southwestern Connecticut continue to experience increased traffic volumes and subsequent overcrowding of existing highway and rail facilities, particularly the I-95 Expressway. In 2005, the Bridgeport Port Authority initiated an effort to investigate a third potential transportation mode to help alleviate the problems of overcrowding – a high speed ferry service between the two cities and connecting to Manhattan in a least 2 locations. The federal government provided funds to prepare initial analyses and design for facilities and coordinated its funding through the Connecticut Department of Transportation. TPA was chosen as the lead consultant to complete the project design for the Bridgeport facilities and to coordinate with New York officials.
As part of the first stage of work, the project team reviewed market analyses, the construction cost estimates, and routing analyses to determine project feasibility. A forum for operators was held by the Bridgeport Port Authority with attendance by several high speed ferry operators from around the country. A Request for Qualifications was forwarded to these operators as the next step in soliciting an operator and formulating an operations and business plan.
TPA reviewed existing physical conditions, and studied docking and maritime facilities as well as site and supporting parking facilities for the terminal. The Team’s work encompassed surveys of current inter-modal and highway ridership, demand for service, size of vessels and scope of terminal facilities, costs of maintenance and operations, income projections and the project’s economic feasibility. Based on the findings, a vacant parcel at 330 Water Street was identified as the recommended location.
With the recession of 2008, the project was temporarily put on hiatus prior to the development of facility plans. It resumed in 2012, but was again delayed during preliminary design in 2013. Semi-final design resumed in 2016.
TPA, in conjunction with project architects Gregg Wies & Gardner and structural/MEP consultants AI Engineers, prepared design documents for a new ferry facility including a terminal building, floating docks, utilities, security fencing, and site lighting. The finished grade of the terminal and adjacent decking will be raised to elevation 13.0 to place the facility above the base flood elevation. Close proximity to the Port Jefferson Ferry, Metro-North commuter railroad, and GBTD bus station will create a multi-modal transportation hub.
Located directly underneath Interstate 95, the site features a number of design challenges. Fitting the terminal building around the existing bridge piers required coordination with CT DOT for both construction and maintenance concerns. Additionally, outreach to Metro-North was required due to the need to bring utilities to the site underneath an existing railroad bridge without disturbing the stone abutments.
The majority of the project will be constructed on top of an existing prestressed concrete deck unity system. However, this required special consideration for the terminal design to due weight limitations. Additionally, it posed routing questions for utilities. TPA located and reviewed the original 1998 as-built plans for the Water Street Dock to confirm existing conditions.
Final design plans were completed in April of 2018. A competitive bidding process is anticipated for the Summer in the expectation of breaking ground by the Fall.