OGUNQUIT — Repairs to the Marginal Way will continue following Planning Board approval for projects that will reinforce and repair 13 sites damaged by the March 2018 Noreasters that caused a half million dollars of damage to the historic oceanfront walking path.
Bill Walsh of Walsh Engineering presented drone footage showing the damage and proposed repairs at the Planning Board meeting Monday. Planning Board members Steve Wilkos, Priscilla Botsford, Mark MacLeod, and Muriel Freedman did a site walk with engineers prior to the meeting.
Walsh identified 13 projects starting at the south end of Marginal Way, closest to Perkins Cove, where the storms eroded soil and boulders near the pathway, trees, and staircases.
Many of the memorial benches suffered erosion around them, Walsh said. Much of the erosion can’t be seen from the path, but is visible in the drone footage taken from the cliff side, looking back.
Pinned boulders will be used to create reinforced stone walls, and erosion control matting will be used to keep soil from washing away. Native plants and shrubs will be planted in several areas in keeping with the natural landscape of Marginal Way.
Marginal Way is enjoyed by 5,000 people a day in the summer months, totaling 500,000 visitors a season, according to Jeanne Roche, executive director of the Marginal Way Preservation Fund. The Preservation Fund, along with the town’s Marginal Way Committee, have been working together to raise and appropriate funds to not only repair the March 2018 storm damage, but to reinforce and upgrade where possible to guard against future storms.
The unique nature of Marginal Way, a mile long walking path that hugs the rocky coastline along the open ocean in Ogunquit has made it both vulnerable to the fury of Mother Nature, and difficult to protect and repair.
“Access is a challenge in this area, so the materials we have chosen are all relatively small. Our preference would be to use some bigger stones, but by pinning these in and using smaller ones, it can be more easily handled and brought into the site on smaller equipment which is what we need,” Walsh told the board.
In one area, erosion has exposed the roots and washed away the soil under three mature trees. In this area, a stone wall will be created with pinned stones, which will be filled in with erosion mats and turf reinforcement to hold the soil and trees in place.
In the area of the winterberry meadow another row of pinned boulders will be installed with a second row behind it to make it even stronger, with erosion fabric to keep the soil from migrating out, Walsh said.
In the area of two sets of stairs that lead down to the beach, two projects will be undertaken to shore up the stairwells where erosion has taken place. Pinned boulders and grout will be filled in to stabilize the edges, Walsh said.
The drone footage showed two large chasms of erosion that can’t be seen from land, but compromise the safety of the pathway. Those chasms will be backfilled with rip rap while protecting the delicate vegetation in the area, Walsh assured the board.
Closer to the northern end of the path a long section will be protected from erosion with the installation of a 12 inch gravel strip that will be planted with native plants and bushes. Walsh said the strip will be excavated and then erosion control matting will be installed and finished off with native plantings that will help create a berm against future storm damage.
Walsh said some of the erosion has come from above the pathway, rather than from the ocean, and those areas will be addressed in the next round of repair projects.
The board voted unanimously to approve the plan for the 13 repair projects, which are also subject to Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) approval and permits.