Snowe appeal to Army engineers hastens Eastport permitting

Thomas Critchley, operations manager of the Port of Eastport, walks through the $8 million port expansion recently.
Gabor Degre | BDN
Thomas Critchley, operations manager of the Port of Eastport, walks through the $8 million port expansion recently.
Posted March 10, 2011, at 2:52 p.m.
Last modified March 10, 2011, at 6:19 p.m.

EASTPORT, Maine — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved and signed off on a federal permit amendment for the Port of Eastport, according to U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe.

The approval comes less than 48 hours after Snowe appealed to the Army Corps for haste.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection also approved the amendments earlier this week, paving the way for additional improvements at the port as part of an $8 million expansion.

Port Director Chris Gardner has been holding his breath, waiting for the permits, because if the process wasn’t fast-tracked, the additional improvements possibly would have been scrapped.

The port is reconfiguring its geography — removing a hill — to construct a cargo conveyor system. The additional work that was requested included filling in a small wetland to build a new livestock container yard and an additional warehouse for pulp storage. Both were necessary because of increased economic development at the port.

If the permits were not approved until after the construction work was completed, the projects would have cost an additional $500,000 to restage the contractors and their equipment. Garner said earlier this week that without a quick approval, the port would likely drop its plans for the additional work.

Earlier this week, Snowe urged Col. Phil Feir of the Army Corps of Engineers to work toward a solution.

In a Monday, March 7 letter to Feir,  Snowe wrote, “This economic region needs this type of development and I would like to request an expedited review of the project.”

Late Wednesday, Snowe released an update.

“I am grateful for the Army Corps’ attention to this matter and its expedited consideration of this critical permit allowing the port to move forward with an expansion that will save money, create jobs, and enhance Maine exports,” she said. “At a time when Washington County is looking to expand business through the Port of Eastport, it is more important than ever for the federal government to fulfill the requests of our job creators in both a timely and reliable fashion.”

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