NEW BEDFORD — The New Bedford Port Authority has awarded a $27.9 million construction contract to an Acushnet company for its North Terminal expansion project.

The government body announced Tuesday that D.W. White Construction will be undertaking the $27,943,800 project, which aims to expand the city's working waterfront along the harbor north of the Rt. 6 bridge.

Once completed, the expansion is expected to create more than 11 new acres of terminal space and 1,825 feet of new bulkhead east of Herman Melville Boulevard.

In a release on Tuesday, the port authority noted that the project will create more infrastructure to support the offshore wind industry as well as berthing space for commercial fishing vessels.

The agency expects the project to bring "significant long-term economic development" including 898 new, permanent jobs along with an extra $11.5 million in state and local tax revenue.

But companies currently leasing property at the site have said the city's plans could raise prices and drive out small businesses.

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Marine Hydraulics manager Jerry Wheeler told WBSM News last year that the project will cut off the firm's water access, noting that each fishing boat at his marina represents a small business that relies on him for low cost dockage.

"There would be no place for them to go if this marina were eliminated," he said.

Wheeler and Nordic Fisheries president Roy Enokson sued the New Bedford Port Authority and the city in January 2021 for breach of contract, but the case was dismissed in August due to their lease allowing the city to undertake such a project.

"Here, the terms of the lease are unambiguous," wrote the judge in the decision.

In 2018, the North Terminal expansion project won a $15.4 million BUILD grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

City officials say the project will "create a safer and more efficient connection between the New Bedford Harbor and the surface transportation system."

They noted in the release that construction plans include dredging and storing around 25,000 cubic yards of contaminated material — leftover PCBs and heavy metals not yet remediated by an EPA project to clean up New Bedford harbor — located in front of the terminal.

D.W. White Construction had previously bid $32.7 million for the project, but interim port director George Krikorian said at the time that the bid was over budget.

“This project represents a major step in our effort to modernize the Port of New Bedford," said Mayor Jon Mitchell. "It will enhance the long-term competitiveness of our maritime industries and help create quality jobs for our residents.”

"We look forward to working with D.W. White, a leading contractor in Greater New Bedford with a long history of responsible corporate citizenship," he added.

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