The Spurwink Marsh section of Sawyer Road/Street in Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough is pictured here in the aftermath of a storm Jan. 10. A car on the road was swept into the marsh during that storm. Contributed / Matt Craig

The Scarborough and Cape Elizabeth town councils have given the green light to a project that will remove a shared roadway that crosses the Spurwink Marsh, linking the two towns.

Called Sawyer Road in Cape Elizabeth and Sawyer Street in Scarborough, the road routinely floods during major storms. Plans call for the removal of the 1,400-foot stretch of the road that cuts across the marsh, creating dead ends on both sides.

The roughly $2 million project requires each town to contribute $185,000, which the councils have now officially agreed to: Scarborough did so when it signed a memorandum of understanding last month. Cape Elizabeth signed the agreement on Monday but had approved the allocation of $185,000 in December. Nearly $1.6 million will be funded through a grant from the Maine Natural Resource Conservation Program.

“The purpose (of the agreement) was to lay out the obligations and responsibilities of both Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough,” Scarborough Town Manager Tom Hall said on Tuesday. “We’re working on a fairly lengthy timeline.”

The road will be removed in two phases between December 2026 and April 2027. In the meantime, preparations must be conducted, including environmental assessments and modeling of the marsh this year, and planning for restoration next year, town staff said at a previous workshop on the project.

The road poses a threat not only to those looking to cross it during a storm but to Spurwink Marsh itself.


“The tidal constriction has made water sit on the marsh longer than it otherwise would have,” Cape Elizabeth Town Planner Maureen O’Meara said at the workshop. “It’s killed the vegetation and sunken the floor of the marsh.”

As part of the agreement, the towns will work cooperatively to ensure the project goes as planned. They also agreed to work together to monitor the effects of the project in the five years after construction is completed.

“One point of further discussion between now and construction is the recognition that (flooding) is happening more and more frequently,” Hall said. “At the staff level, we’re prepared to maintain what we’ve been doing the past few years, which is determining when flooding is likely to occur and taking precautionary measures.”

Cape Elizabeth Town Manager Matt Sturgis did not reply to a request for comment before the Sentry and Leader’s deadline Wednesday.

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