A section of the encampment under the Casco Bay Bridge off Commercial Street in Portland on Nov. 9. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

At least some people living in Portland’s largest remaining homeless encampment will be forced to move in a little under two weeks as the state worries about people being injured when snowplows cross the Casco Bay Bridge.

A large orange sign put up Friday at Harbor View Memorial Park, where about 130 are camping, read “designated safety zone will be restored,” and that “camping within this area will be prohibited” as of Dec. 11.

A laminated piece of paper from the city under the sign details a number of support resources for campers and phone numbers they can call to try and access shelter.

City spokesperson Jessica Grondin said the signs were put up by the state and the city has no plans to clear the large encampment on that date.

The sign was posted at the entrance to the camp, about 30 yards away from the bridge. Paul Merrill, spokesperson for the state Department of Transportation, said that it refers to an area just around the bridge, about 25 feet in each direction.

“We are trying to avoid injury when snowplows come and we are also concerned about fires,” Merrill said.


He also said the bridge required some minor maintenance work that would require the state to access the area. He said as long as people don’t camp in the area fenced off by the state, they will not be moved on Dec. 11.

The posting comes about two weeks after the City Council voted down a proposal to temporarily allow public camping through the winter. A new asylum seeker shelter opened on Thursday, freeing up 120 beds at the city’s Homeless Services Center. The council also voted last month to temporarily expand capacity at the HSC by another 50 beds in an effort to get more people inside during the winter.

The city has been sweeping encampments throughout the year. Under the new Encampment Crisis Response Team model, outreach workers are deployed to help get people into shelter before the city ultimately takes down encampments.

In an announcement Friday afternoon, Grondin said the city is using an “all-hands on deck approach” and launched “a plan to provide intensive outreach” to those living at the encampment.

City Manager Danielle West said that since Thursday 11 people living at Harbor View Park have agreed to go to the HSC.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.