Coast Guard breaks ice on Kennebec River

Posted Jan. 30, 2010, at 5:36 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers were breaking a channel through the ice on the Kennebec River as far as Gardiner on Saturday and Sunday in an effort to loosen an ice dam that has been locked in place for several days.

The ice dam remained in place as of late afternoon Sunday.

Three vessels from the U.S. Coast Guard spent most of the daylight hours on the river Saturday. The Morrill Bay, an icebreaker from Connecticut, worked the river from Bath, where it is moored, to the Richmond Bridge. The Coast Guard vessels Bridle and Tackle broke a channel from the bridge north to Gardiner.

The icebreakers are not able to pass under the Gardiner Bridge to reach the ice jam itself.

“The ice dam is holding fast,” said Coast Guard Chief Christopher Wheeler in Portland. “But we’ve got a channel up through there now.”

The hope is that the open channel will help flush ice from the dam and break up the ice jam that has stretched from the Gardiner-Randolph area upriver to Farmingdale, Wheeler said.

Although the waters of the Kennebec River rose above flood stage earlier in the week, the Maine Emergency Management Agency on Friday reported that water levels in the river have continued to drop below flood stage and that the National Weather Service had dropped its flood warning.

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