The causeway that links Bickford Island to Cape Porpoise village will be raised to address flooding due to storm surges and king tides. A public meeting with preliminary designs is expected at the end of September. The town hopes to bid the project early in 2023, with a view for a spring construction start. Tammy Wells photo

KENNEBUNKPORT – Those who live in Cape Porpoise or visit the village frequently may notice people working in the causeway area of Pier Road this week. They were to begin the process of looking at subsurface elevations, conducting a function-and-values assessment and undertaking other work associated with a project to address storm surges and king tides that impact the causeway.

If all goes as envisioned, work to raise the 450-foot long causeway that links Bickford Island and the mainland will commence in the spring.

The town of Kennebunkport was awarded $2.6 million from a Maine Infrastructure Adaption Grant July 14 and will contribute 2.6 percent of that as a local share to address the storm surge flooding. The select board chose Portland-based consultants Woodward and Curran for design and engineering.

Megan McDevitt, a senior project manager and Woodward and Curran, gave the board of selectmen an update on the causeway project Aug. 11. She said once the surveys are completed in about a month, followed by preliminary designs, there would be a stakeholder meeting on site with residents and others who are directly impacted. A public meeting is set for the end of September.

Because it impacts natural resources, any design to raise the causeway must be approved by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, she said.

“We hope to have the final design by the end of the year,” said McDevitt, with a view of putting the project to bid early in 2023.  “That’s when contractors like to bid. We hope to have a successful contractor on board in April, or when the season allows (the project) to begin.”


She told the board that the design will need to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians and the kayak launch.

“There’s a lot to consider,” said McDevitt, like the feasibility of on-street parking, and how high to raise the road to protect from flooding due to king tides and storm surges, and how doing so impacts residential neighbors.

One neighbor noted her deed with the town spells out a no parking agreement. McDevitt said all property agreements and boundaries would be examined.

“We’ll make sure we review all the requirements and take those into consideration in the preliminary design phase,” she said.

In a request for engineering proposals, the town estimated the causeway would have to be raised at least four feet, and that it be widened to accommodate pedestrian access on at least one side.

McDevitt said some have suggested a culvert or thruway under the road to facilitate passage of kayaks, and said the impact, size and feasibility would have to be considered, and noted any culvert over 10 feet has to be coordinated with the Maine Department of Transportation.


McDevitt noted there is a sewer under the road so that impact on the project  along with boat and recreational navigation in the area would have to be determined as would the timing of the project and its impact on whose who work on Bickford Island.

Selectman Allen Daggett asked if the contractor would be able to keep at least one lane open at all times during construction, for fishermen who drive back and forth to the pier.

McDevitt said is was likely some sort of temporary access to the island would have to be determined because it is the only way in and out.

Daggett also asked if the work would coincide with the pier rehabilitation project. The U.S. Economic Development Administration announced in April that it had awarded $2.2 million to Kennebunkport for pier reconstruction, which would be coupled with local and state funds for an extensive overhaul.

Town Manager Laurie Smith said that could be challenging because the pier project has not yet been bid, but that engineers are aware.

“Is there any thought of a bridge as opposed to a causeway,” asked selectman Jon Dykstra. “I’d like to see it high enough, so we don’t have to come back in 20 years and raise it again.”


McDevitt said Woodward and Curran was awaiting geotechnical information but hadn’t thought specifically of a bridge.

Select board chair Ed Hutchins said he wanted to make sure that the project stays in the town’s right of way, to avoid land acquisition.

Hutchins said he was also concerned if water were allowed to run underneath the causeway or bridge it would impact the mooring area, known locally as the ditch, that runs from Cape Porpoise Harbor to the pier.

“It’s very critical that doesn’t happen,” said Hutchins, noting what he described as the massive amount of material the U. S Army Corps of Engineers removed at its most recent dredge of the area.

Selectman Mike Weston had a different view; suggesting a conversation once the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has weighed in “instead of a bully session,” he said.

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