CONCORD, Mass. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, in partnership with the Maine Department of Transportation, is proposing maintenance and improvement dredging of the Searsport Harbor Federal Navigation Project in Searsport, Maine.
The Corps has prepared a Draft Feasibility Study/Environmental Assessment (FS/EA) to examine improvements to the navigation channel for Searsport Harbor. The Draft FS/EA is available for review at: http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/ProjectsTopics/Searsport.aspx. The Maine Department of Transportation is the nonfederal sponsor for the project.
“The purpose of the proposed project is to maintain and improve the existing Federal navigation project for Searsport Harbor at Mack Point in Searsport to accommodate the deep draft vessels that currently use the existing terminals at the port,” said Project Manager Barbara Blumeris, of the Corps’ New England District, Engineering and Planning Division. “This improvement will reduce the transportation costs incurred by existing shippers due to tidal delays and light loading of vessels.”
Searsport Harbor at Mack Point is the busiest deep draft commercial port north of Portland, Maine. The State Pier handles aggregates, forest products and other bulk and break-bulk cargos. The Sprague terminal, located to the west of the State Pier, receives shipments for both Sprague and Irving Oil. Since completion of the State Pier in 2003 and upgrades to the petroleum terminal, the size of ships calling on Mack Point/Searsport Harbor has increased. As a consequence, the existing controlling depths in the Searsport Harbor navigation channel are inadequate for the existing and future vessel traffic.
The preferred navigation improvement alternative for Searsport Harbor is to deepen both the existing entrance channel and turning basin from their authorized depth of 35 feet to a depth of 40 feet mean lower low water. In addition, the entrance channel would be widened from its current 500 feet at the narrowest point to 650 feet, and a maneuvering area would be created in Long Cove adjacent to the east berth along the State Pier. About 892,000 cubic yards of material would be dredged for the improvement project.
Concurrent with the improvement dredging, maintenance dredging would be required to bring the existing project to its authorized depth. Approximately 37,000 cubic yards of material would be removed for maintenance dredging. The total quantity of material to be removed from the proposed project is approximately 929,000 cubic yards. Dredging and disposal would occur between November 8 and April 9 to protect migrating Atlantic salmon and other natural resources in Penobscot Bay. Disposal would be at the Penobscot Bay Disposal Site, approximately six miles from the project area, or at the alternative Rockland Disposal Site in the lower bay.
The proposed work is being coordinated with: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; National Marine Fisheries Service; U.S. Coast Guard; Maine State Planning Office; Maine Department of Conservation; Maine Department of Environmental Protection; Maine Department of Transportation; Maine Port Authority; Maine Division of Marine Resources; Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife; Maine State Historic Preservation Office; and the town of Searsport.
The public notice for this proposed work, with more detailed information, is available for review on the Corps website at: http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/ProjectsTopics/Searsport.aspx.
Public comments on this proposed work should be forwarded no later than May 6, 2013 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Engineering and Planning Division (ATTN: Ms. Barbara Blumeris), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.