NEW BEDFORD — Ed Anthes-Washburn can't remember a larger grant awarded to the Port of New Bedford than the $15.4 million announced Thursday night.

The funding, which will be used to extend the port’s bulkhead and remove contaminated materials, represents the largest project by the city on the water since the 1970s, Anthes-Washburn said. Of course, New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal was larger with a more expensive price tag, however, that was state operated.

“The upside is very transformative, we think,” Anthes-Washburn said.

This was the third time the Port applied for the grant.

The project, according to the grant proposal, will result in 898 new and permanent jobs with $65.1 million in additional wages and local consumption, which will also result in $11.5 million more in state and local taxes.

“The strength of our fishing industry and the ties potentially and the opportunity with the offshore wind industry are what put this over the top,” Anthes-Washburn said. “But it was our core industries, it was the commercial fishing that got us to the table.”

The funding from the Department of Transportation will create an additional site for offshore wind staging as well as provide room for 60 more commercial vessels. The proposal showed pictures of vessels lined up five wide from the dock.

The construction will occur north of the EPA Dewatering Facility.

As fishing ports along the East Coast continue to shrink, New Bedford consistently grows. Anthes-Washburn said the port’s year over year growth exceeded 125 percent.

“We’re becoming a hub of commercial fishing on the East Coast and that continues to happen,” Anthes-Washburn said. “That’s because of our strong fishing industry and the strength of the supporting businesses as well.”

The project will also remove 250,000 cubic yards of contaminated materials and provide the beneficial use of 130,000 cubic yards of sediment. The clean soil will be used as the backfill for the new bulkhead, which is funded by grants from the state.

In June, the Baker Administration awarded New Bedford $1.6 million for the design and permitting of Phase V dredging.

It’s an example of a multi-layered public project that also has private backing, Anthes-Washburn said. Each business that’s dependent upon direct water access and berth dredging will pay 20 percent of the cost of Phase V dredging.

The timeline for the project directly linked to Thursday’s grant was expedited because it involved cleaning up the harbor. Anthes-Washburn said the project is already fully permitted. Design should be done by the end of the spring with approval complete by the end of next year. Construction would commence at the end of next year or early 2020.

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