Huge northern Maine dam proposal fell 30 years ago

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 24, 2013 at 12:02 pm •  Published: February 24, 2013
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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — It was three decades ago this year that a massive hydroelectric project along northern Maine's scenic and wild St. John River was to have begun. But a prolonged fight with opponents, huge cost overruns and erosion of support from the state's congressional delegation kept it from ever being built.

Congress authorized the project known as Dickey-Lincoln in 1965 at a cost of $219 million. But through the years, its cost escalated, eventually reaching more than $900 million by the early 1980s. That covered two power dams and transmission lines from them.

With elected officials' support fraying and environmentalists and sporting enthusiasts battling the project, it was scaled back to a $175 million venture.

Finally, in 1984, then-Sen. George Mitchell said he could no longer "in good conscience" support even that project. It was shelved.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Three decades ago this year, construction on New England's largest public works project was to have begun, but instead a shovel was never put in the Earth, and the massive project was eventually abandoned.

The massive hydroelectric project along northern Maine's St. John River would have flooded 88,000 acres of forest and streams in the name of cheap power. But a prolonged fight with opponents, huge cost overruns and erosion of support from the state's congressional delegation kept it from ever being built.

Congress first authorized the project, known as Dickey-Lincoln, at a cost of $219 million in 1965. But through the following inflation-riddled years, its cost escalated, eventually reaching more than $900 million by the early 1980s. The cost covered twin power dams producing 830 megawatts and transmission lines from them.

Construction of Dickey-Lincoln, which would have stopped up 55 miles of the St. John, was scheduled to begin in 1983. As first envisioned, the project was to build a 335-foot dam and 760-megawatt generating station in the small town of Dickey, upstream from the confluence of the Allagash and St. John rivers. A smaller dam 11 miles downstream at Lincoln School would have had a 70-megawatt power plant.

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