The Port of New Hampshire will get $5 million to make it easier for ships to turn around. The money is part of the state’s capital budget that Governor Hassan signed into law this week. The capital budget also includes increased funds for the new women's prison in Concord.
Back in 1984, the Army Corps of Engineers recommended five port improvement projects. Four have been completed. With this additional $5 million from the capital budget paired with $14 million more from the feds, the final project can get underway.
Port Director Geno Marconi says, by widening the Piscataqua river turning basin from 800 to 1200 feet, bigger ships can turn around more safely.
"We want to reduce the risk of holing a ship and having a disaster."
Especially, Marconi says, if the ship were carrying diesel. The turning basin was designed for the 550 foot ships of the 1940s. Today, 750 foot vessels regularly come through with only 50 foot clearance.
Almost exactly two years ago, Governor Hassan signed a capital budget with $38 million for a new women's prison in Concord, due to open in 2016. But earlier this year, the Department of Corrections asked lawmakers for $12.6 million more, saying construction costs had increased.
Budget writers obliged – with an annotation. The prison shall be designed with the best economical approach. Longtime capital budget committee member Lou D’Allesandro explains:
"This thing just can’t float out of control. This is the final capital appropriation for the facility."
The Department of Corrections estimates the new womens prison will open a year behind schedule, in the fall of 2017.