FALMOUTH — The causeway between the mainland and Mackworth Island will be closed to pedestrians, and drivers should expect significant delays, for the next few months while the causeway is rebuilt.
Andrews Avenue, the only road to the island, the Baxter School for the Deaf and the Real School, will be under construction beginning Monday, Oct. 17, to repair damage from several storms.
The repairs are being funded by the U.S. and Maine emergency management agencies.
“The entire causeway will be off limits to foot traffic,” said John Woodcock, who oversees facilities on the state-owned island.
A popular walking trail around the island, run by the state Department of Conservation, may also be closed, Woodcock said.
Andrews Road will be reduced to one lane across the causeway and temporary signal lights will be set up to regulate traffic. Vehicles traveling to and from the schools will have priority, Woodcock said, but drivers can expect delays of up to 20 minutes.
He estimated the construction would be completed in mid-December.
The causeway damage dates to April 16, 2007, when a Patriot’s Day storm pulled rocks encased in chain-link fence away from the road on the north side.
“Every time you get high wave action, it gets worse,” Woodcock said. “Another big storm and the whole roadway could wash away.”
The construction team will be installing rip-rap to defuse the waves, and geotech cloth to hold everything together.
Woodcock said ideally the whole causeway would be rebuilt at a minimum of 14 feet above the high-tide mark – what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recommends – but funds for that are unlikely to be available any time soon.
“We’re lucky this project was funded before FEMA found out they didn’t have any money,” he said.
A sign on Andrews Avenue in Falmouth warns pedestrians that the Mackworth Island causeway is closed to foot traffic while the causeway is being rebuilt. Work is expected to last until December.