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Maine DOT Seeks Your Input on the Machias Dyke Bridge Replacement Options

Public comment solicitation
MaineDOT is providing the opportunity for public input on the future of the Route 1 Machias Dyke Bridge
re-construction project.
The Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) is now accepting input on the replacement of a section of US Route 1 and the Machias Dyke Bridge. This bridge structure includes tide gate barriers that were installed 70+ years ago to prevent tides from entering the Middle River saltmarshes in order to support historical farming activities. DSF will be requesting that an open span bridge be installed as the most appropriate option. Not only do the tide gates impact hundreds of acres of saltmarsh, they are also a barrier to migratory fish and exacerbate tidal flooding in other nearby sections of downtown Machias.
This potential marsh and watershed restoration/barrier removal project is ranked among the top 10 estuary restoration projects in the entire Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine.
Over many years, the Downeast Salmon Federation (DSF) has been encouraging MDOT to address this and to address a very similar bridge/tide gate system in Addison on the West Branch of the Pleasant River. Both structures are failing and now need a modern solution that takes into account all of the critical ecosystem functions. The project in Addison is also ranked among the top 10 marsh restoration projects in the Gulf of Maine.
The history of these structures is very unique. In the case of the Machias Dyke Bridge, it was once a private toll road and tide gate system to support agriculture and private business. Today it is part of US Route 1 and serves as an important flea market and farmers market location as well as a railbed – now the multiuse Sunrise Trail. Sewer, water, and utilities are also co-located across “The Machias Dike”. This is clearly a very big project and very important. DSF believes that all of these functions can and must be compatible with the restoration goals for the river and marshes. To add further complexity and urgency, sea-level rise will necessitate that the elevation of the entire structure be raised at least three feet!
It is our opinion that a span bridge and full natural hydrologic conditions be considered as the ideal option chosen by MDOT. This will allow continued and improved existing uses and improved conditions for endangered Atlantic salmon and other important fisheries and wildlife habitats.  This approach will also help to protect critical downtown infrastructure and a road system that is subject to increasing sea level rise.
In Addison, MDOT appears to have taken the position that a span bridge allowing for natural fish passage and tidal flows be built to replace the tide gates there on the West Branch of the Pleasant River.
As the smelt migrations begin to occur in Eastern Maine this month, it is of note that many smelt streams are no longer functioning within these watersheds = including a stream called Smelt Brook in the town of Marshfield on the Middle River. It is time that the namesake of that stream be allowed to recolonize the natural habitat. 
MDOT is considering a number of different options for the re-construction in Machias and they are seeking your input. Please see the link below to visit their Virtual Public Input system. This new system for engaging the public is very user-friendly.
2020 DSF Logo
DSF would like to hear from you about your concerns regarding the Middle River and Addison marsh projects. Contact us with your comments and input directly.
Connect with MaineDOT's VPI (Virtual Public Involvement) system to view the project information and provide feedback.
Read the article on the Machias Dyke project at the Machias Valley News Observer, which has excellent background information.
If you would just like to see the MaineDOT project materials without registering and commenting, we've made it easy for you to view the public meeting materials online.
Each of the links below is a YouTube video from MaineDOT with the particular segment of the Machias Dyke Project.


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