WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, announced that $5,850,000 in funding she requested for the maintenance dredging of Searsport Harbor was included in the Fiscal Year 2022 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill.

The bill was passed by the Appropriations Committee Aug. 4 by a vote of 25-5 and will now be considered by the full Senate.

Last month, Collins and Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner Bruce A. Van Note visited Searsport to review the high-priority project.

“The long overdue maintenance dredging of Searsport Harbor will help prevent significant shipping delays at Mack Point and maintain the safety and efficiency of operations,” Collins said in a press release.  “As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I strongly advocated on behalf of Maine DOT and Searsport to include this critical project in the funding bill, and I will continue to champion this investment in Maine’s infrastructure as the process moves forward.”

Searsport Harbor is one of Maine’s three deepwater seaports. The navigation channel was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1964 with a design depth of 35 feet. Over the last several years,

however, sediments have deposited in the channel. A maintenance dredging has been postponed for more than 12 years.

Ensuring there is sufficient clearance for ships unloading liquid and dry cargoes at Mack Point’s two piers is essential to the safety and the efficiency of the port, according to the press release from Collins’ office. Local environmentalists have opposed dredging the channel for years because of fears of disturbing mercury in the sediments to be dredged.

The Army Corps of Engineers’ initial request for the dredging was $4,200,000. Collins included an additional $1,650,000 in the appropriations bill through a Congressionally Directed Spending request, which was necessary to meet the revised work plan, dredge approximately 22,000 cubic yards of material, and maintain the navigation channel. The deposited material will be used to construct a laydown pad for long-term cargo storage.

During the appropriations process, Collins submitted a total of 110 Congressionally Directed Spending requests amounting to more than $286 million across nine Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations bills. The funding will support projects by Maine’s state government, municipalities and nonprofits that will promote job creation and economic development, improve infrastructure, expand community resources for Mainers, and protect our environment. The text of the remaining appropriations bills will be released over the next several weeks.