Construction bids lower than expected for Portland's cruise ship mega-berth

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PORTLAND — The bids are in and it appears that local tax dollars will not be needed to build the so-called mega-berth for large cruise ships at Ocean Gateway.

Three companies submitted bids for the project, originally estimated to cost as much as $8 million.

Paul Pottle, assistant manager of the Maine Department of Transportation’s Multimodal Program, said that all of the bids came in well below that figure.

“The bids were below the estimate for the project and within the budget available,” Pottle said.

In June, voters approved a statewide bond package that included $6.5 million for the mega berth.

Had the bids come in above that amount, City Hall spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said the city would have had to pursue other funding options to cover the costs through its Capital Improvement Plan or borrowing.

Reed & Reed, of Woolwich, submitted a bid of $4.88 million, edging out Prock Marine Co., of Rockland, which bid $4.93 million, as the lowest bidder. Cianbro said it could do the project for $5.47 million.

Scott Bickford, a DOT contracts engineer, said it will take several weeks before the project can be officially awarded to the Woolwich-based company.

Bickford said construction will likely begin this fall and must be finished by July 15, 2011 – just in time for next year’s cruise ship season.

Before new construction can begin, however, Pottle said there is limited demolition that will be necessary to remove a small building on top of a mooring dolphin and the bridge that leads to it.

New construction will consist of a more than 1,000-foot floating pier that will allow large cruise ships to dock and unload passengers.

Larger cruise ships means more passengers disembarking on Portland’s waterfront, which is good news for businesses.

Clegg said a record-setting 73 cruise ships, carrying almost 76,000 passengers, are expected in port this season.

She said researchers at the University of Maine released a study last year indicating that in 2008, nearly 48,000 passengers from 31 cruise ships spent $80 to $110 each in greater Portland.

That generated $5.8 million to $8 million for the regional economy and created up to 100 full- and part-time jobs, Clegg said.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or