PORTLAND, Maine — U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, announced Friday that the Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a contract for the dredging of Portland Harbor, a process she said would “maintain the channel and keep our waterfront working.”

The federal shipping channel through Portland Harbor was last dredged 14 years ago. The contract for just more than $9.23 million was awarded to Cashman Dredging & Marine Contracting Co., based out of Quincy, Mass

The project is to be completed by March 15, 2014, and will involve the removal of approximately 700,000 cubic yards of material from the channel. The dredge will deepen the channel to 35 feet in depth.

“With so many large ships coming in and out of Portland, it’s absolutely critical to have a navigable harbor,” said Pingree in a Friday afternoon statement. “The cruise ships, tankers, fishing boats, cargo freighters and more that bring millions of dollars into the local economy every year depend on a deep port.”

Portland Mayor Michael Brennan called the contract announcement “welcome news.”

“Just like our roads, bridges and rail lines, the shipping channel through the Portland Harbor is a critical component of our transportation infrastructure and supports our regional economy,” Brennan said in a statement. “Thanks to our federal partners, this planned dredging will ensure that our port is navigable for many years to come, even for the largest ships sailing the seas.”

Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.