Wiscasset Newspaper

Head Tide Dam latest: Big white bags

Susan Jones

Jul 24, 2019
Before Head Tide Dam gets a new viewing platform that gives the fish more room to get through, workers at the Head Tide Road, Alna site need a place to work in the Sheepscot River.

They said that was the point of the heavy lifting Monday, with a crane from SumCo of Peabody, Massachusetts: SumCo site foreman Jarrod Martellucci was hooking one white bag of gravel at a time onto the crane, which raised each one up from the parking area and carried it toward the century-old, town-owned concrete dam. Martellucci estimated the bags at about 3,500 pounds each.

Inter-Fluve engineer Michael Burke said more than 100 bags are involved; they will form a coffer dam to keep the river water off workers; and he said a state biologist will come move any trapped fish.

Burke has been on the project for years, aiding Atlantic Salmon Federation and a town committee in exploring and planning it.

“This is the next big step,” Burke, in a hard hat, said, smiling, midday Monday. He expected the abutment to come down later this week through next week. Then comes work on the new platform, starting in August, he said.

Asked his thoughts on the site, Martellucci said it’s one of the tighter ones he’s worked in, but there’ll be more room with the bags moved, he added. Workers have directed traffic as needed to get equipment in. A fence and signage went up around the work area earlier this month.

In an email to the Wiscasset Newspaper Monday night, Midcoast Conservancy’s Senior Watershed Manager Maranda Nemeth said the project is “moving along very smoothly,” with demolition of the old gatehouse abutment set to start Wednesday.

“The demolition will widen and deepen that opening to improve the river flow regime. Then, we will begin to build a safer overlook, and walking paths and install benches and signage.” Until construction wraps up later this fall, the site will still be closed to swimming “and any other access,” she added.

Nemeth noted the project is part of the watershed-wide initiative ASF, Midcoast Conservancy and Nature Conservancy have been working on. “As the first dam on the Sheepscot River, this project is very critical to opening up over 60 miles of habitat for migratory fish including Atlantic salmon, American Shad, and river herring.”

ASF approached the town in 2015. Selectmen negotiated the project contract with ASF after getting voters’ OK in 2017. The work will cost Alna nothing, ASF has said.


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