Fishing boats sit moored in Cobscook Bay off a state-owned landing in Lubec. With the help of a $19 million federal grant, Lubec officials plan to build a breakwater that will provide a sheltered mooring field off a waterfront property roughly a half mile away, near the intersection of Main and South streets. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

Due to high projected costs, the town of Lubec is looking to reduce the scope of work planned for a major $19.5 million harbor improvement project.

Initial plans for the project, which the federal government approved funding for in 2019, called for vehicle access along the top of a 1,200-foot breakwater so fishermen could drive out to the end to load and unload their gear. The town planned to have enough space for 30 boats to tie up along with a boat ramp and a dock with floats where the breakwater connects to shore.

The new breakwater and marina are planned for a site near the intersection of Main and South streets, less than a mile away from the existing mooring field off the state-owned landing at the end of Water Street.

But the breakwater won’t have the planned vehicle access. And there will be fewer floats at the pier than initially planned, officials said.

Carol Dennison, chair of the board of selectmen, said that because pandemic-related increases in material costs, the town got quotes that were millions of dollars higher than expected. One quote that would have resulted in a breakwater less than 1,200 feet long, was for $24.5 million, while the other came in at $41 million. So the town had to make changes.

The town has decided not to change the planned length of the pier because doing so would make the entire project ineffective, Dennison said. That’s why the scope of the breakwater was changed.

Dennison said there still will be a ramp where boats can be trailered in and out of the water, and there will be space for Marine Patrol to tie up a response vessel.

Currently, Marine Patrol keeps a boat moored in the existing harbor, but the agency’s response times are relatively long because it can be difficult to get out to a moored boat in inclement weather. Being able to walk out to a boat tied up at a dock will be a big improvement, she said.

“Their response time will be drastically reduced,” Dennison said.

She said the town is waiting to hear back from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which has provided the funds, about the reduced scope in work, which she said could happen “any day now.” If the agency gives its approval, the town then would send out a new RFP, she said.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....