Central Maine Power Co. will start work in July to install a temporary “floating road” in Great Salt Bay in Newcastle to gain access to an island for improvements to a transmission line.
Deborah Turcotte, an outreach specialist for CMP parent company Avangrid, said at the Newcastle Board of Selectmen’s meeting Monday, May 10 that CMP will replace a 1967 wooden H-frame structure with one that is 17 feet taller to meet modern federal requirements.
She said there will not be any power disruptions related to the project and the work is expected to be complete by December, when the floating road will be removed.
Turcotte said the transmission line that runs across the state-owned island travels 10 miles from the Damariscotta Mills substation to the Bristol substation and provides power to approximately 4,300 customers in Newcastle, Bristol, and Damariscotta.
The “floating road” is an advanced engineered wetland access system that consists of floating pontoons covered with wooden mats and will allow CMP vehicles access to the island. Turcotte said the system, engineered by Emtek Matting Systems, is designed for environmentally sensitive areas.
Newcastle signed a lease agreement with CMP in March 2020 to allow the company to use the town’s sand storage area off Mills Road as an access point to the island. In exchange, CMP provided distribution pole work for the town’s Academy Hill project.
Turcotte said that archaeologists excavated and cataloged cultural resources from the island last summer. CMP also consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on the project. The construction schedule will conform to time-of-year requirements related to bald eagle nesting sites.
She said CMP has sent notices to all residents who live nearby and the company will continue to keep the community informed throughout the construction process.
Also on Monday, the selectmen approved Road Commissioner Seth Hagar’s work plan for the $686,734 capital roads projects budget for fiscal year 2021-22.
Hagar outlined his goals for town roads for the upcoming year as part of his long-term roads plan.
Stonebridge Circle is in the third and final year of the plan and will see finish paving and shoulder work this year. West Old County Road is in the second year of the program and will see reclaim paving and new culverts.
Another option in this year’s budget is to improve the parking lot of the Sheepscot fire station if funds allow.
The selectmen approved a membership with the Midcoast Economic Development District to provide the services of an on-call planner to assist the planning board with the town’s new Core Zoning Code when necessary.
Max Johnstone, a planning consultant with the district, told the selectmen that help with updating the town’s comprehensive plan and eligibility for federal Economic Development Administration grant funding are other benefits of membership.
The $3 million grant that Damariscotta received from the federal agency for flood protection and other improvements to the town’s waterfront came from the Economic Development Administration.
The cost to the town for one year of membership is $2,115, or approximately $1.25 per resident.