Without harbor dredging, the channel to Spring Point Marina in South Portland could become unpassable, according to owner Rob Soucy. (Portland Phoenix/Jordan Bailey)
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After three successive denials for funding from the United States Department of Transportation, the team behind the long anticipated Portland Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD) Cell and Dredging Project is set to provide an update on the status of the project on Wednesday, Oct. 12.

The Portland Harbor Working Waterfront Rehabilitation Project will hold a meeting scheduled at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Centerboard Yacht Club at 271 Front Street in South Portland. The meeting is expected to include feedback from stakeholders and identify paths forward for the project, which is steered by a coalition including the cities of Portland and South Portland, The Portland Harbor Commission and the Department of Transportation.

The coalition behind the project is looking for federal funds to help dredge, or dig the mud out of the harbor, which hasn’t been dredged in more than 70 years. Several feet of toxic sediment has accumulated, making certain parts of the harbor inaccessible for boats and interfering with docking and other waterfront operations.

The city needs roughly $8 million to secure the project, which has an estimated total cost of just over $30 million.

A CAD cell is a massive hole to be dug on state-owned subtidal land in the South Portland harbor, which would hold the toxic sediment removed from the piers. The dredging, a three-year process on its own, can’t take place until the CAD cell is dug out.

Waterfront officials from both Portland and South Portland have emphasized the importance of this project. Since many piers in each harbor haven’t been dredged in years, they say the buildup of sediment means those piers aren’t being used to their full potential.

The city will seek additional commitments to the project from the community at the meeting on Wednesday as the project’s team looks for alternatives to the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant funding.

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