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Bar Harbor retaining seawall partially fails: Parking lot damaged, Bar Harbor Ramp 1 removed, repairs begin

Daily News Staff Writer

Part of the sea wall has collapsed on the south side of Bar Harbor, taking out part of a City of Ketchikan parking lot, prompting the removal of Bar Harbor Ramp 1, and causing several floats to be without water and power service.

The city posted a notice on social media saying Ramp 1 is closed for the foreseeable future due to the sea wall failure, which is very apparent, according to Dan Berg, senior harbormaster for the City of Ketchikan Port and Harbors Department.

“It’s pretty obvious when you try to go pull in the parking lot, that there’s no parking lot there anymore,” Berg said.

The sea wall collapsing began as a sinkhole underneath of the parking spaces along the water side of the parking lot, according to Berg. He noted that years of tidal erosion in between the rocks eventually led to the sinkhole collapsing on Sunday.

After the sinkhole collapsed, Burg said Western Dock and Bridge retrieved the ramp on Sunday, which led to interruptions in water and electric service for floats three, four, five and six.  Berg explained that the water supply was affected by the sinkhole, so they shut it off.

For the time being, he said those floats will be without both services. On Monday afternoon, there was a maintenance crew working to get water patched over from the other end of the harbor. Burg said water service will hopefully restored by the end of the day on Tuesday.

Ketchikan Public Utilities on Monday afternoon was also working on a plan to provide power to the floats. Burg said they would like to get the service restored as soon as possible, but that plan is still being developed.

“The power lines at the top of the ramp there, there was a big power box and then the lines run from that down the ramp to the floats, and then to the respective floats that they feed, so when we pulled the ramp out yesterday, we had to disconnect those lines and pull them back down on the float,” Berg said.

If that was not enough, Berg was then notified on Monday morning that the rock wall itself was beginning to fail and a large chunk of the wall had fallen into the harbor.

Mark Hilson, director of the city’s Public Works Department, said that the wall was inspected at the end of last week and was found to be in bad shape, so an area of the parking lot by the wall was blocked off. No one was hurt when the wall collapsed and no vehicles were damaged, Hilson added.

“The rocks themselves were not real conducive to being stacked, and there was no other reinforcement helping to hold up that wall,” Hilson explained. “Oh and then they poured a concrete wall on top of the rock wall that went vertically up another three or four feet, and then parked vehicles on top of that. It was a combination of issues.”

Hilson noted that his crews’ top priority is to stabilize the situation by removing the wall and the fill behind the wall. Western Dock and Bridge deployed equipment on Monday to help.

“That will be kind of a permanent fix, but as far as the time frame, I don’t know,” Berg said. “They’re working hard right now just to stabilize that area. Over the next few weeks, they’ll be working hard to get that back into useable shape.”

Once the crews have reached a certain level of the wall, the work they are doing will be tidally influenced, Hilson said. He noted that if the tides are favorable over the next few evenings, crews would be on scene repairing the wall.

According to a press release from the city, the work will need to occur past the time limit as established by the noise ordinance, and the Public Works Department Engineering Division is working on a design for a replacement wall.

Berg said many people used Ramp 1 to access the southern part of Bar Harbor. With the ramp out of commision for the time being, he advised the public to use a different ramp.

It might be a little longer of a walk, but they will still make it to the same place.

“They’ll either have to use the Madison ramp or Ramp 2, which is just a little further to the north,” Berg noted.