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Port needs rail link and deeper dredging

A cargo vessel docked at the Conley container terminal last summer.

Globe file photo

A cargo vessel docked at the Conley container terminal last summer.

THE SEPT. 1 editorial “Dredge Boston Harbor” leaves out or glosses over a couple of points. Dredging is of scant benefit to inner harbor facilities. The Williams Tunnel, a few feet below the bottom of the harbor, is a barrier to New Panamax ships ever traversing the inner harbor. This leaves the Conley terminal and the piers along the old Army Base as the only serviceable wharfage for the new larger vessels. These terminals are constrained in their future growth.

In addition, the proposed 2/3-mile vehicular freight corridor is laughable. It doesn’t remove trucks from Summer Street, a busy commuter route, nor the Summer Street Bridge. Any relief from traffic noise would be offset by increased noise from an expanded terminal. It also would create a new intersection on busy Summer Street. There is a section of rail line at the old Boston Army Base that could possibly be utilized. Rail would be cleaner, safer, and far more efficient — and we needn’t wait until we can fit double-decker rail cars on the line.

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To be a viable port we need harbor depths equal or greater than our East Coast competitors. That seems to mean at least 50 feet. Ships are only going to get larger, and waiting for the tide or transferring cargoes to smaller vessels are not options in today’s shipping business. Shipping and related businesses will, in the long run, prove far more profitable and stable than the flash and glitz of tourism, luxury condos, and the ambiguous “innovation economy.”

J.F. Bennett

South Boston

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