Renovations to Bar Harbor's ferry terminal will cost the province of Nova Scotia about $8.5 million CAD, which is about $3.5 million more than earlier estimates. Renovations are necessary to resume an international ferry service between Bar Harbor and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia by Canadian company Bay Ferries, which is planned to begin later this spring. COURTESY OF TOWN OF BAR HARBOR

Terminal renovation costs continue to rise

BAR HARBOR — Work is currently underway on needed renovations to the ferry terminal here, with Canadian company Bay Ferries planning a relaunch of the Bar Harbor-Yarmouth route in late June.

The renovations to the facility are now expected to cost $8.5 million in Canadian dollars (CAD), according to a press release issued last week from the government of Nova Scotia. That projection is 3.5 million CAD more than earlier estimates.

Town Manager Cornell Knight said the new cost estimate is not expected to affect Bar Harbor. According to the lease, he said, “renovation costs are borne by Bay Ferries and the province.”

Knight said he was not surprised at the increase, since there is a labor shortage in Maine. “Project budgets are coming in much higher than projected all around the state,” he said.

Work on the ferry terminal includes a fixed span and pier, deck and pile repairs, as well as moving the transfer bridge from the Portland terminal and reassembling it in Bar Harbor.

It also includes the demolition of some outer buildings, construction of customs plaza facilities and reinstallation of security equipment moved from Portland. Renovations to the existing terminal will provide retail space for Bay Ferries, public space for customers and update customs facilities.

The cost of renovating the ferry terminal is included in the province’s 2018-2019 budget. In addition, the province is budgeting $13.8 million to operate the Maine to Nova Scotia service in 2019-20.

Some of the operating budget will go toward paying the salaries of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials at the Bar Harbor terminal, per a reimbursable services agreement still under negotiation.

A new $10 USD port fee will be charged per passenger each way to help defray CBP costs, according to Bay Ferries’ website.

This will mark Bay Ferries’ return to Bar Harbor, where the company operated between 1997 and 2009. Prior to that, international ferry service here on the Bluenose dated back to 1956.

Last June, Bar Harbor voters authorized the purchase of the ferry terminal from the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) for $3.5 million USD. The town closed on the purchase of the property Jan. 31.

Prior to that, in October, town council voted to enter the five-year lease agreement with Bay Ferries for the portion of the property the ferry company will be using. The lease was signed in February.

Becky Pritchard
Former Islander reporter Becky Pritchard covered the town of Bar Harbor and was a park ranger in Acadia for six seasons.
Becky Pritchard

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