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A Railway Runs Through It. “Port of Naugatuck” aims to develop unused land and revitalize an entire area.

A Railway Runs Through It.  “Port of Naugatuck” aims to develop unused land and revitalize an entire area.

One of the hardest situations an American town has to deal with after manufacturing has left is what to do with the land. Sometimes these brownfields run into contamination problems during redevelopment, but other times a municipality has a development opportunity that’s obvious. That happened recently to the borough of Naugatuck who has looked to move forward on a proposed inland port on the former Uniroyal Chemical Company land.

For Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess, the development of the nearly 90-acre parcel of land was a no-brainer, and because of the railway that runs through the land, an inland port was an equally easy choice to make.

Inland Ports often take the place of congested sea ports as a means to both store and transport goods coming from abroad. This hub, dubbed the Port of Naugatuck, would allow goods coming from places like Canada, Europe, or even Asia to go through customs before being distributed to the tri-state area via truck.

The Port of Naugatuck is situated on the Pan Am line, which gives it access to a large portion of New England and Canada as well as easy access to the New York/Newark markets. This would be doubly efficient for companies, because their goods will have already been cleared through customs, eliminating costly cargo transfers.

The port will also be a useful warehousing location because of the large amount of space available to develop. Companies can build and utilize warehouses at the port in much the same way that they would at a sea port.

Benefits beyond Naugatuck back to top

Benefits extend to the borough of Naugatuck, which has visions of economic renewal to the town, its residents, and the state of Connecticut over the long term.

Bringing in additional revenue through taxes and jobs associated with the import of goods are two obvious benefits, but a dedicated railway would help alleviate traffic in the surrounding areas by getting more tractor trailers off the road as well.

Mayor Hess has gone on to hire Civil 1, Inc. to work on the project, which includes purchasing the parcel of land and environmental clean-up. The town has already applied for grants to aid in the completion of this project, which has some hurdles to jump before being complete.

One major issue is the completion of improvements to the Waterbury line of the Metro North railroad. It needs sidings so that two trains can safely pass, and upgrades to signals and cars, but those developments have stalled due to the impending insolvency of the Special Transportation Fund.

Municipal leaders from Waterbury to Bridgeport where the line runs see these upgrades as the chance to bringing in development opportunities.

None more so than Mayor Hess, who has continually lobbied on all sides to see that this project benefits the residents of Naugatuck. He envisions a stable tax-base from the companies that invest in the Port of Naugatuck, a lower mill rate, and a revitalized town. It’s just the ticket to get Naugatuck back on the fast track.