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Communities continue effort to secure funding for Portland Harbor dredging

Portland, South Portland, the Portland Harbor Commission, and the ME DOT are applying for federal funding for the project.

PORTLAND, Maine — A coalition of communities in southern Maine is continuing its push to secure funding for dredging in Portland Harbor. 

Portland, South Portland, the Portland Harbor Commission, and the Maine Department of Transportation are again applying for federal funding for the project. Their request to the U.S. Department of Transportation's RAISE program has not been approved in three recent applications. 

Leaders however are hopeful that this most recent application will be approved as they seek $8 million in federal funding for the project. They hope to dredge the built-up salt and sediment around piers and marinas in Portland Harbor that have lead to reduced water depths and limited berthing space. 

The issue is particularly noticeable around low tide. 

"It used to be that in some bursts at low tide, your boat wasn't floating at the low tide peak," Bill Coppersmith, a lobsterman of 41 years based out of Portland Harbor said. "But now what's happening is your boat isn't floating before low tide, and it's still not floating after low tide. So what used to take maybe a half hour, 45 minutes to get your boat to float, now takes a few hours."

According to staff with the Greater Portland Council of Governments, which is working alongside the communities applying for the project, the groups requested $18 million in federal funds in 2022. According to GPCOG, local organizations and communities received $10 million from ARPA funds from the state for the project. 

It's estimated the project will cost more than $32 million. GPCOG said private pier owners would pay roughly $20 per cubic yard dredged.

Supporters of the dredging project are planning to gather in South Portland Saturday for a demonstration, calling for funding and support for the project during an extreme low tide. Supporters will gather at the end of High Street, near the Coast Guard station. 

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