In this Aug. 20, 2020, file photo, the Kennebec River is seen alongside Route 201 in Caratunk. The proposed Central Maine Power corridor would run through the town and cross the Kennebec River. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

An excavation company is starting to plow access roads and stage equipment for construction of an electricity transmission corridor aimed at bringing Canadian hydropower to the New England grid.

Much of the 145-mile New England Clean Energy Connect calls for widening existing corridors, but a new swath would be cut through 53 miles of wilderness in western Maine.

The clearing of a 54-foot path for power lines is set to begin around Jan. 18, Thorn Dickinson, president and CEO of the New England Clean Energy Connect Transmission, said in an affidavit, which was first reported by the Portland Press Herald.

A Wisconsin company has deployed excavators and tree-harvesting equipment for the project.

Three conservation groups tried unsuccessfully to obtain an emergency order to stop construction from getting underway. A judge denied the request, but an appeal is pending before the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The groups are moving forward with a lawsuit that contends the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers should’ve conducted a more thorough environmental impact statement.

The Army Corps gave its approval in November.

The project previously received approval from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Maine Land Use Planning Commission and Maine Public Utilities Commission.