Yarmouth Royal River dredging all done but for the paperwork

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YARMOUTH — Although the dredging of the Royal River is done, icy water is preventing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from officially saying work is completed.

The dredging was finished at the end of January by Burnham Associates, of Salem, Massachusetts, but the Army Corps still has to complete an underwater survey of the river to confirm the job was done properly. Project Manager Michael Walsh said that can’t be done until the ice melts.

Walsh said even though the contractor has removed all of its equipment and there’s no reason to doubt that a thorough job was done, confirmation is a requirement.

“As far as we know it’s done,” Walsh said. “They’ve hit all the areas.”

Walsh said a survey of the river probably won’t be completed for at least another month or so.

“My best guess is that it probably won’t be until April,” he said. “Ice usually leaves in March.”

The long-delayed, $3 million dredging project began last October. Dredging is supposed to be done every 10 years, but had not been done on the Royal River since 1997.

Burnham was awarded a $2.1 million contract for the dredge Sept. 5, 2014. The other $900,000 was used to cover the corps’ cost of administration, oversight and planning.

Walsh said that although they had until April to complete the project, Burnham was expected to be done in December. He said weather and freezing temperatures slowed things down.

Walsh said the ice in the river was so difficult to work around at some points that the contractor hired an ice breaker.

Discussions about the fate of the Bridge Street dam are expected to follow the official completion of the dredging project. Town manager Nat Tupper said the Town Council won’t discuss the possibility of removing the dam until after April 1, which was the deadline for the dredging to be completed.

The Bridge Street Dam Steering Committee has been meeting since September and reviewing different aspects of the dam. According to minutes from its Feb. 17 meeting, the committee decided it would “not seek to report to the Town Council on findings just because the April 1, 2015 date passes.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.