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Grant will enable further assessment of Sawyer Road culvert

The Town Council on Dec. 10, 2018 accepted a $32,124 grant from the Maine Coastal Program to further assess conditions at the Sawyer Road culvert near the Scarborough town line.

Spurwink Marsh culvert at Sawyer Road will undergo a collaborative hydrology and hydraulic study with the help of a Maine Coastal Program grant

The Sawyer Road Hydrology and Hydraulic Study grant will allow both towns to work toward long-term solutions to erosion occurring at the culvert at the Spurwink Marsh. "This is ... the area in a low-lying section of Sawyer Road just on this side of the town line, where the water, the marsh tends to overtop the road," said Town Manager Matthew Sturgis.

The grant is an extension of a $17,000 coastal communities grant the town applied for in 2017 to study the condition of 16 culverts in Cape Elizabeth. [news article] "It became apparent that the Sawyer Road culvert, with its tidal influences, required more than a concept-level assessment," said Town Planner Maureen O'Meara, in a memo to the council.

The Maine Coastal Program will contribute $26,124 toward the grant, plus a $3,000 match from each town, for a total of $32,124. The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, which alerted the town to the availability of the grant, will make in-kind contributions.

Culverts are structures that allow water to flow under roads, trails or other obstructions. However, culverts that are too small or are deteriorating can cause surrounding erosion. Work associated with the first grant to assess the 16 Cape Elizabeth culverts should be completed this month, O'Meara said.

Sturgis called the Sawyer Road culvert a "substantial" concern. "But this is one area that I think we can come up with a larger, long-term plan for how to improve this situation by the use of this grant," he said.