Site preparation for the Gay Head Light relocation is progressing quickly, with the excavation work nearly complete, and the actual move now planned to begin on June 10.

At a press conference Thursday, project managers and members of the Save the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee said it will take six days for hydraulic “ push jacks” to nudge the historic structure 129 feet along custom constructed rails to its new location.

Representatives from International Chimney Corp. and Expert House Movers spoke at press conference Thursday. — Mark Lovewell

The site is already dramatically changed, with tons of vegetation and soil removed, and work crews ready to pour the base of the concrete foundation that will support the lighthouse.

The lighthouse now sits 46 feet from the eroding Gay Head Cliffs. With the excavation extending 30 feet from the base of the tower, contractor International Chimney Corporation has just a 16 foot margin to get the job done.

“If we did not get this moved this year, there’s a good chance we may not have been able to move it at all,” said committee member Len Butler.

Richard Pomroy, the project manager representing the town of Aquinnah, said the project is on schedule despite initial delays caused by harsh winter weather. “It’s going to move quick,” Mr. Pomroy said. “Next week is going to be a very busy week.”

There were also unexpected setbacks because of lead paint contamination of the site, and changes forced by the possible presence of a rare and protected plant species.

If Aquinnah voters approve an $87,000 expenditure of Community Preservation Act funds at their annual town meeting next week, the committee will reach its initial goal of $3 million to pay for moving the lighthouse.

Future site of the Gay Head Light; work on foundation is underway. — Timothy Johnson

The project now needs another $400,000 to move forward because of “these completely unpredictable environmental issues that have come up,” said Meg Bodner, co-chairman of the fund raising sub-committee, “Everybody has rallied from all over the Island, the region, nationally, and even internationally. We have over 1,000 donors. We’re almost there, and we just need to dig a little deeper.”

Tyler Finkle, project manager for International Chimney, said this is the sixth lighthouse the company has moved. He said there will be plenty of science involved in the complex operation, but plenty of art, too. Jerry Matyiko, of Expert House Movers, the company that works with International Chimney on major projects, will help decide how to get the lighthouse from here to there.

“We do the engineering, size the beams,” Mr. Finkle said. “He gets the art, the feel for it. Every building is different, you’ve got to get a feel for it. He can tell you what’s going to be an issue. Those guys have done so many buildings now, they really know.”

Mr. Butler said the committee and the contractors have prepared for every possible scenario, including the unthinkable. There are no known construction drawings or blueprints for the current lighthouse, completed in 1856, but a consulting firm visited before site preparation began. Utilizing 3D laser scanning technology, Meridian Associates created a model and building plans accurate to within a centimeter.

“If anything horrible would happen, we have a record so we could reconstruct it,” Mr. Butler said.