Improvements planned for Long Island wharf

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LONG ISLAND — Updates are planned for Mariner’s Wharf, which provides a primary public access point to this Casco Bay town.

The town, the Maine Department of Transportation and Freeport-based Baker Design Consultants are designing upgrades to the wharf, which provides year-round docking for Casco Bay Lines ferries and an island rescue boat.

The project still needs site plan approval and permits, so it has not gone out to bid and the cost is not known.

The wharf was built in 1996, according to Dan Bannon, the project engineer from Baker Design. Tthe primary goal of the upgrade is “to improve the safety and function of the existing island rescue vessel berth,” he said.

“Long Island’s rescue vessel serves an important public safety role not only for Long Island, but also in providing mutual aid for Chebeague Island, Cliff Island, Great Diamond Island and Hope Island, plus the city of Portland, Falmouth, Cumberland, Cumberland County, the state of Maine and the United Stated Coast Guard, who have all used this vessel,” Bannon said.

“Wind and wave exposure make use of the current rescue vessel berth difficult in adverse conditions,” he added. Part of Baker Design’s plan is an upgrade and extension of a wave screen to better protect the vessel and its berth from bad weather.

Bannon also said the “steep slope of the existing gangway at low tide makes its use with stretchers or (other) equipment difficult. This will be addressed by adding a new 80-degree ADA-compliant gangway to access the float system. The gangway upgrade will also improve facility accessibility, function and capacity.”

Since Mariner’s Wharf was built it has “greatly improved access to the island. However maintenance and upgrades are needed to ensure that the facility continues to meet the needs of users,” Bannon said.

A secondary goal of the wharf project is to also increase “the capacity of the existing facility for visiting boaters, water taxis, fisherman, commercial boats, utility companies and others,” he said.

New floats will be added to the float system and existing floats will be reconfigured.

Construction will be done over several phases, Bannon said, with the first phase expected next winter. “Timing of future phases is dependent on permit approval and funding allocation,” he said.

Bannon said most of the improvements are geared toward the south side of the pier.

The new gangway will also be on the south end to allow access to the pier directly from the shore, “which will reduce the need for emergency vehicles to have to drive out onto the pier,” according to Bannon.

The project, which is being funded by the town, MDOT, the Maine Coastal Program and a grant from Cumberland County, “will improve the wharf area in multiple ways, including improved wave protection, increased vessel capacity and greater accessibility,” Bannon said.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

A Casco Bay Lines ferry docks at Mariner’s Wharf on Long Island. The wharf is one of the primary public access points to the island and increasing demand has led to a need for more floats and other improvements.