New Sea Wall Bolsters Castine Shore

CASTINE – The Maine Maritime Academy waterfront has a new high- tech sea wall built through the efforts of two colleges and two Maine companies.

The 153-foot-long, 6-foot-tall sea wall runs along a portion of the waterfront near Payson Hall. It replaces a 20-year-old wooden barrier that had deteriorated and was allowing some erosion near the paved boat-storage area.

“The old bulkhead was pretty tender,” said MMA waterfront director Tim Leach. “This wall should shore up that bank for another 20 or 25 years.”

In planning the new sea wall, academy officials turned to the Advanced Engineered Wood Composites Center at the University of Maine.

“We don’t have extra room on our waterfront, so it was critical that we come up with a long-term solution,” said Jim Soucie, executive director of planning compliance and facilities at MMA. “We also wanted to use materials that would have a long life span and be environmentally safe.”

Chris Grindle, a marine technician at MMA, worked directly with Olivia Sanchez, a UMaine graduate student and composites center research engineer who designed the project with a team of undergraduate students.

Grindle also helped coordinate the project with representatives from Cianbro Corp. in Pittsfield and Correct Building Products in Biddeford.

About half of the $92,000 cost of the new sea wall was paid by a Wood and Technology Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the university.
Cianbro, whose Chief Executive Officer Peter Vigue and Senior Vice President Mac Cianchette are MMA graduates, donated equipment, labor and on-site services. Correct Building Products also contributed materials at cost.
“We couldn’t be happier to be a part of this project,” Cianchette said in a prepared release. “Maine is home to new companies and a research community that is positioning us for jobs and competitive new products that have great market potential. Replacing aging coastal infrastructure is just one area where we can play a big role in the future.”

Although conventional pressure-treated pine posts were used for the pilings on the wall, about 95 percent of the wall is made from 16-foot-long, 4-inch-square composite rails normally used for porch railings that Correct Building Projects makes.

According to Bob Lindyberg, the manager of technical services at AEWC, the materials will not corrode or leach any chemicals into the water.

“It’s environmentally sound,” he said.

“We’re excited to expand our market presence into sea walls, piers and other marine structures,” said Martin Groham, the company’s president.

According to Leach, the sea wall is part of an overall plan to enhance the MMA waterfront area.

The academy has moved many of the smaller boats that used to line the area near the new sea wall to another storage facility and also has built doors for what had been an open storage area adjacent to Payson Hall.

“When you arrive in Castine from the water, that area is the first impression you have of the academy,” Leach said. “We’re trying to make it more attractive.”

In addition to the work that has been done, Leach said he’s developing plans to add different lighting for the area.