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Bills seek to crack down on spending at Connecticut Port Authority

Connecticut state pier.PNG
Yehyun Kim
/
CT Mirror
The State Pier infrastructure improvement project in New London in March, 2022.

The Connecticut Port Authority is expected to ask the state — and possibly its partners, Eversource and Orsted — for more money to complete their redevelopment of the State Pier in New London.

The price for the pier to become a hub for the offshore wind industry has increased from $93 million to around $255 million.

State Senator Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, and Representative Christine Conley, D-Groton, who sit on the legislative transportation committee, said they are introducing two bills to curb spending at the Port Authority and other quasi-public agencies like it.

“One is the elimination of success fees from ever happening with any quasi-public and with any state agency,” Osten said. “And the other one is that no management of a contract administrator, contract manager can bid on the respective projects that they’re managing.”

The bill is in response to state auditors investigating the project’s construction manager, Kiewitt, for awarding itself millions of dollars of work at the State Pier. The State Contracting Standards Board has also criticized the port authority for paying a $523,000 success fee in 2020 to Seabury Capital Group for helping to find a pier operator.

Osten said the port authority and its chairman, David Kooris, have been given more than enough chances to get the job done.

“You know, enough’s enough,” she said. “And I would say that both myself and Representative Conley voted against the reappointment of Mr. Kooris because we think it’s time to move on. It’s time to establish a whole new administration down there relative to the board and let’s see what we can do with that.”

The port authority had said it would not seek any more state money for the State Pier project after tapping an escrow account for $3.7 million to help complete the redevelopment.

The agency has not said how much it would need, but a separate estimate to finish the job could cost around $30 million.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.