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Shipyard garners state funding for final phase of dock rehab

Superior Telegram

Fraser Shipyards shares in $6.5 million in harbor assistance grants approved by Gov. Scott Walker this week.

The third phase of the Superior shipbuilder’s site improvement project receives $2.9 million in state funding to extend the existing sheet pile dock wall to maintain a safe berth and lengthen shipyard life.

It’s the second time Fraser benefited from the Harbor Assistance Program, started in 1979 to help harbor communities maintain and improve waterborne commerce.

In 2009, the shipyard received $3.7 million in harbor assistance funding to launch the first of three phases. In addition, a $2 million federal grant secured for former Congressman Dave Obey, was used to help the $10 million project.

The new funding will allow Fraser Shipyard, originally built to handle smaller vessels, to handle the average 700-to 800-foot ships used today.

With 10 vessels in the port this year, Tom Curelli of Fraser Shipyard told the Superior City Council in January the berthing area for those ships was virtually exhausted. He said phase three will provide about 2,000 linear feet of dockage.

State Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, and Reps. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, and Nick Milroy, D-South Range, pointed to this grant as an example of the benefits of targeted state and federal investments and innovative public-private collaboration.

As the only remaining shipyard on Lake Superior, Fraser plays a critical role in the shipping industry and the entire region’s economy, the lawmakers said. Federal and state funds were absolutely essential to allow this modernization project to go forward; the state and federal investment, along with millions of dollars of additional investment made by the company, will not only enhance Fraser’s position within the industry, but will also help maintain the industry’s presence on Lake Superior, the lawmakers said in a prepared statement.

In addition to funding for the Superior shipyard, grants were awarded to Two Rivers and Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay.

The city of Two Rivers in Manitowoc County receives $878,868 for dredging the Two Rivers Harbor entrance to serve commercial fisheries, and $400,000 for reconstruction of a seawall in the harbor.

Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay receives about $2.3 million for construction of a new dock wall to allow for the docking of large vessels for maintenance and construction.