AUGUSTA, Maine — The state has received $1.3 million in federal funds for improvements to the Maine State Ferry Service terminals at Islesboro and Lincolnville Beach.
The award of the federal stimulus funds to the Maine Department of Transportation was announced Tuesday by Rep. Michael Michaud, D-Maine.
“Ferry services provide a vital link to Maine’s many island communities,” Michaud said in making the announcement. “This funding will promote safety by improving the dock infrastructure. Investments like these will make a real difference for the users and operators of this ferry service.”
The money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be used to replace aging fender systems on the mainland and island ferry terminals. The fenders are used to secure the ferries in place for loading and unloading at the terminals.
Paul Pottle, manager of the DOT’s multimodal program, said the existing fenders were installed in the 1980s and were in need of replacement. At the time they were installed, he said, the ferry service expected the fenders to hold up better than they did.
“They’ve given us 20 years but they should have lasted longer,” Pottle said Tuesday.
The ferry service is in the middle of a $6 million replacement of transfer bridges at the Lincolnville and Islesboro terminals, and the fender project would not get under way until that job is completed, Pottle said.
“We’ll have to do a little design work and put the fender project out for bid, probably late this year or early next year,” he said. “We will take them off one at a time to install them and will have to work around the boats. This is really going to be fabricated panels that can be put in place and they can do that while the ferry service is operational.”
The transfer bridge project will require shutting down ferry service for about four weeks beginning in late September. The transfer bridges at both terminals are more than 50 years old and are beyond their useful life, Pottle said. Island residents have accepted the loss of ferry service for a month because replacement of the transfer bridges has been long overdue.
Cianbro Corp. was awarded the contract to replace the transfer bridges and is in the process of fabricating two 80-foot-long, 14-foot-wide bridges at its Pittsfield site. Once completed, the bridges will be placed on barges and floated to Islesboro and Lincolnville Beach. They will be lifted into place by a crane and will be installed during the same four-week period.
Vehicle trips to the island will be suspended during that period, except for some limited trips on a private ferry. In addition, the state has arranged to take foot passengers to and from the island on a private vessel. Ambulance calls and medical emergencies will be handled by private vessel or LifeFlight helicopter if needed.