Maine Department of Transportation to hold public meetings to craft rail plan

Posted Sept. 15, 2009, at 10:54 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — In order to determine how to best invest in Maine’s passenger and freight rail infrastructure over the next 10 years, the Maine Department of Transportation is developing the Maine State Rail Plan, an analysis of the state rail system’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.

Two public meetings will allow Mainers to help with the analysis by providing their thoughts on such topics as:

• Defining what criteria should be used to prioritize public investments in rail;

• How does rail meet the needs of the state and region?

• Defining the positive impacts that the State of Maine and stakeholders can have in addressing and meeting regional and statewide rail needs;

• Examining forces that may be limiting the state and stakeholders in addressing and meeting regional and statewide rail needs;

• Should rail help to take traffic off the public roads? How would that happen in your region?

The first public meeting is scheduled 6-8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 28, at the Bangor Motor Inn, Hogan Road, Bangor.

The second meeting is scheduled 6-8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, at the Glickman Library at the University of Southern Maine, Portland.

The State Rail Plan is scheduled to be completed early in 2010.

DOT also is working with a 30-member Technical Advisory Committee to gather information on current infrastructure needs and identify trends and opportunities. A study Web site is linked to the DOT home page and can also be found by going directly to www.maine.gov/mdot/railplan/index.htm. The public may provide comments directly via the Web site. As study data is gathered, it will be posted on the site.

In addition to hearing from stakeholders, Nate Moulton, DOT Rail Plan Project Manager, sees development of the plan as a way to provide insight into the challenge of making transportation decisions.

“We know that today’s economy means making difficult decisions and trade-offs,” he said. “Funding for maintaining and operating an efficient passenger and freight rail system is very complex, and this study will be a great way to make this aspect of transportation planning part of the public dialogue.”

Questions regarding the meetings may be directed to Carol Morris, Study Public Outreach, at cmorris@morriscomm.net or 207-329-6502.

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