In this June 1, 2021, file photo. boats cross Portland harbor as seen from the top of the Portland Observatory on Munjoy Hill. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

A coalition of public and private entities that applied for a federal grant to support a major dredging project around Portland Harbor was not selected.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Thursday that it would not be awarding $24 million for the project to remove the contaminated silt that has built up around wharves and marinas, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The Portland Harbor Commission, the cities of Portland and South Portland and owners of private marinas have applied for federal funding multiple times and were hopeful they would win this year because they had permits, state and city funding and broad public support.

“I’ll have to admit I was feeling a little cocky. I was very disappointed, but we will move forward,” Dan Haley, chair of the Portland Harbor Commission, told the newspaper.

The build up of silt has reduced water depths and cut off a quarter of commercial berths from being used, the newspaper reported. The silt also contains contaminants, meaning it cannot be disposed of in open water but must be locked in an underwater well.

The design and construction of the well, known as a confined aquatic disposal cell, has added to the cost of the project. The group intends to look for other sources of funding and must do so relatively quickly as the permits for the project expire in five years, the newspaper reported.