PORTLAND, Maine — A $2.5 million renovation of the Casco Bay Lines ferry terminal on the Portland waterfront was ceremonially kicked off late Wednesday morning with a celebratory groundbreaking.
The project combines with $900,000 in repairs to the pilings and support structure at the Maine State Pier site to represent approximately $3.4 million in work to help stabilize the increasingly high-traffic location.
Casco Bay Lines General Manager Hank Berg said Wednesday morning that when the terminal was constructed 25 years ago, it was built to accommodate 500,000 ferry passengers each year. Today, he said, the ferries carry nearly 1 million passengers to the Casco Bay islands annually.
“We’ve outgrown the capacity of this building,” said Berg, who called the renovation plans “transformative” for the structure.
The overhaul will double the size of the terminal from 3,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet, and move the public waiting area closer to the harbor, where new glasswork will allow passengers to look at the harbor and boat traffic while they wait for their ferries.
The construction will take approximately eight months, Berg said.
Austin Smith of Portland-based Scott Simons Architects said the project will reconnect ferry passengers with the waterfront by removing the unsightly utility boxes and trash containers currently taking up the terminal’s prime water-viewing real estate. The renovation also will include replacement and upgrade of the facility restrooms.
“What we hope to do is return the magic of the experience of going out on a boat ride into the bay,” Smith said during the Wednesday morning event.
“This expansion is going to make us able to … serve our residents and serve the islands in ways we haven’t been able to in the past,” Portland Mayor Michael Brennan said. “The whole reason we’re able to make the islands work and have year-round residents is because we have Casco Bay Lines services. This is going to increase our capacity, allow us to do more and service those residents in a greater way.”
Funding for the projects includes a mix of federal grants, previously approved state bonds and Casco Bay Lines matching funds, Berg said.
Prior to the current terminal’s construction in 1988, Casco Bay Lines operated out of even smaller accommodations on the nearby Custom House Wharf.