Transportation bond passed by voters will benefit Gulf of Maine Research Institute

A crumbling pier bulkhead on the Portland waterfront may be restored to make berthing space for fishing and research ships, thanks to a $1 million earmark tucked into a bond passed by Maine voters Tuesday.

The funding is directed to the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, which owns the pier behind its Commercial Street headquarters.

The science nonprofit intends to use public funding to access federal grants and private donations for the $3 million project, said institute President Don Perkins.

Gulf of Maine Research Institute has long-term plans to expand laboratory and research space on the pier to attract top international researchers. Renovating the pier will also make space for fishing and research vessels.

“The broader aspiration is that this property becomes a magnet for marine science research and technology,” Perkins said.

But to make that plan work, the institute has to renovate the pier’s western supporting bulkhead, which is on the verge of collapse.

“It’s a nightmare waiting to happen,” Perkins said.

On Tuesday, Maine voters passed a $105 million borrowing package by 76 percent.

Most of the money, $100 million, is pledged to repair and rebuild Maine’s roads, bridges and other transport facilities and $4 million will match local funds to upgrade culverts. The remaining $1 million is reserved specifically for the institute’s bulkhead project.

With interest, the 10-year bond will cost taxpayers almost $130 million.

The state funding is the latest round of public support the in....

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