GOULDSBORO — The Maine Forest Service and Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT), in a joint maneuver last week, successfully airlifted four of five culverts from Birch Harbor village’s tidal flats by helicopter and deposited them on land above the inlet’s eastern shore. The culverts were transferred to MDOT’s two awaiting tractor-trailer trucks and taken away. The 20-foot-long culverts had broken loose from nearby Route 186 during a rainstorm and flash flooding early last June.
John Devin, MDOT’s eastern region engineer, says the one remaining culvert had partially filled with mud and proved too heavy to airlift last Thursday, Oct. 14, from the inlet’s outer reaches off the western shore. Devin said the agency’s dive team plans to retrieve the culvert by attaching it to a barge and hauling it out during an incoming tide. He said the salvaged culverts may be in decent enough condition to be recycled.
Last Thursday’s three-hour operation was overseen by Devin and Maine Forest Service Regional Ranger Jeff Currier. The Maine Forest Service’s helicopter arrived at 11 a.m. and landed in Birch Harbor resident Cindy Lowe’s yard, where all personnel involved initially touched base. On the village’s eastern shore, the culverts were airlifted to properties belonging to Mike Bernier and Joshua Scott and another spot closer to Route 186.
In the early hours of June 9, torrential rains caused the culvert structure of Route 186, connecting Birch and Prospect harbors, to collapse. The water’s force caused the culverts to break loose and float out into the tidal zone.
Acadia officials called the rainstorm “one of the most exceptional weather events in the park’s history.” Eight inches of rain fell in a three-hour period. In Birch Harbor, the heavy damage cut off traffic to and from Prospect Harbor. MDOT and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection swiftly devised an action plan, but the major road project took two weeks before normal traffic flow was fully restored. At the time, large sections of the park’s 45-mile carriage road system also were heavily damaged and closed.