Citgo is requesting the go-ahead from Braintree officials on a maintenance project that would involve replacing a decades-old portion of a dock and also the expansion of existing pier structures.
The construction plan drew protest from a member of the East Braintree Civic Association who has been of the design selected by the Massachusetts Department of Transporation for the new Fore River Bridge.
Michael Lang alleged in a letter to the Planning Board that Citgo plans to use the vertical lift bridge in concert with a potential further expansion of its Quincy Avenue docking facility to accomodate a new, larger class of tanker ships, and that the company is not being forthright with town officials.
"Since Citgo has made it clear [during bridge discussions] that they intend to bring in 1000'-1200' Post-Panamax tankers, why would they make major changes to a docking facility half the necessary size?" Lang wrote. "Do they intend next year to pressure the Town to allow them to expand their newly 'maintained' and expanded docking facility to 1200'?"
Citgo has no plans to change the vessel types it services in Braintree, Allen Morris, the facility's manager, told Planning Board members last week. "The project we're doing here has nothing to do with the Fore River Bridge."
One of the company's mooring cells – a concrete and steel structure to which tows can tie off – has been in place since at least 1946 and is in a "deteriorated condition," according to a project narrative submitted to the board. The proposal is to repair that portion of the dock and add another mooring point as well.
An additional 2,790 square feet of concrete decked pier would be added, along with 415 square feet of filled cell structure and 260 square feet of personnel walkway, the report says.
"This is simply a maintenance project," Morris said.
Citgo also has separate plans to hold bio-diesel fuel, which is blended with home heating oil and diesel fuels. That project would not increase the facility's overall flammable storage capacity, company officials have said.
Residents and town officials from Quincy, Weymouth and Braintree, here, have expressed disatisfaction with the state's choice in design for the Fore River Bridge, arguing that a vertical lift bridge (similar to the temporary structure in place now) is unnecessarily large, complex and expensive.
Research developed by Lang and others who have promoted a bascule-style bridge that opens in the middle shows that a vertical lift bridge would cause additional traffic backups because it opens more slowly, is less attractive to non-industrial businesses that may consider moving into the harbor and is only prefered by state and federal officials because they anticipate as-yet completed "Post-Panamax" cargo ships traveling through the passageway.
When the subject was brought up during the meeting last week, Morris grew frustrated with the line of inquiry, saying that he had not seen the letter from Lang and that it had nothing to do with Citgo's project. After it was provided to him, Morris said "the letter is totally irrelevant to our proceedings..."
"We don't have an opinion on the bridge being built," he said.
Board members also asked about any noisy construction taking place after normal work hours and how the crew would enter the secure lot and store their equipment. The proposal will be taken up against on Aug. 21 after officials have had time to review the letter as wel as the project details provided by Citgo.