The Portland Pipeline Corporation performs maintenance work on one of its pipelines underneath D Street in South Portland’s Knightville neighborhood on Monday. Local businesses, including Cia Cafe, visible behind the fence, are concerned about the project’s impact. Sean Murphy / For The Forecaster

SOUTH PORTLAND — On Monday, Jeannie Dunnigan, owner of Cia Cafe at the corner of Ocean and D streets in South Portland’s Knightville neighborhood, zipped in and out of her front door on rollerblades to deliver curbside takeout orders and wipe down the outdoor tables decorated with blue umbrellas. No one was sitting at the tables, though.

Dunnigan blamed the construction work going on not 20 feet away from her cafe. Workers from the Portland Pipeline Co. have torn up the road on D Street for a maintenance project that has local businesses worried about how far the work will go and how long it will take.

According to its permit application, the company is installing an oil pipeline, but there are no further details. A handwritten description of the location of the work reads, “intersection of D Street and Ocean Street to dead end of D Street traveling east and 220 feet west past intersection with Ocean Street up D Street.”

Dunnigan, who has run Cia Cafe since 2013, said the company started digging last week, just before she was scheduled to open outdoor seating for the summer. She and other local businesses are hurting due to economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

“There are a lot of things impacting our business,” she said, gesturing out her window at the construction work, “and this doesn’t make it any better.”

Diagonally across the street from Cia Cafe is the Legion Square Market. D Street passes in front of the entrance to the market’s rear parking lot. While construction is not occurring on that segment of D Street, and is not impacting the store, manager Brian Pond fears that might change.


“Once it gets further down, I’m sure it will,” he said.

In a May 28 letter he sent to concerned business owners, South Portland City Manager Scott Morelli said company officials told him “the project will likely take them through the end of June to complete.”

While Morelli said he understood the problems the project is causing, the company filed all the proper permits and is doing the work legally, meaning as far as trying to stop it, the city’s hands are tied.

“There’s really no provision for it,” he said.

Portland Pipeline Company did not respond to inquiries before The Forecaster’s deadline.

South Portland Police Chief Timothy Sheehan did say that he denied the company permission to close the road completely for the project. On Monday, traffic was able to pass through both Ocean and D Streets.


“The proposal was for a complete closure, but we wouldn’t allow it,” he said.

The city has been locked in a battle with the company over another pipeline project. The company wishes to reverse the flow of a  pipeline to import oil from Canada to terminals in Portland harbor. The city contends that the project would violate its Clean Air Ordinance, and the company in turn has sued the city in federal court, claiming the local ordinance is unconstitutional.

Morelli said the D Street construction work was unrelated to that project.

Sean Murphy 780-9094


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