The proposed design for a new harbour bridge could reduce a city’s competitive advantage in the offshore wind industry, according to city planners and port authorities.

Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDot) recently published proposals for replacement of the 120-year-old New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge (link opens in new tab). New Bedford’s director of city planning Jennifer Carloni and Gordon Carr, executive director of the Port of New Bedford, have responded with a letter outlining their concerns.

The New Bedford-Fairhaven Bridge in the open position.

One concern is that the port will be a focal point for the offshore wind industry, which has clearance needs greater than 76m above water. The present swing bridge has no height restriction. The vertical lift design would have a maximum opening height of 24m.

The letter also called on MassDoT to take on board speed of open and close sequence, aesthetic considerations and resiliency to the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise and storm surges.

The current swing bridge opens for vessels 5,000 times a year on average. It carries USA Route 6 over the Acushnet River between New Bedford and Fairhaven. The structure was deemed to be functionally obsolete by a 2014 MassDoT study. Modjeski and Masters are design consultants for the project.