Committee outlines goals for coastal corridor

Posted Feb. 02, 2011, at 8:54 p.m.

BAILEYVILLE, Maine — Progress is under way on the Canadian Coastal Corridor Project, a locally driven assessment of all modes of transportation in northeastern Maine.

Consultant Sandi Duchesne of GreenLight Solutions said Tuesday that more than 20 people attended the project’s first meeting that was held last week in Baileyville and hosted by the Washington County Council of Governments. She said the participants represented landowners, business and community leaders, and transportation experts.

The Canadian Coastal Corridor is a state-designated transportation corridor that extends from Eastport to Houlton. The Washington County council has been selected to complete the plan, one of three in the area, including the Route 9 corridor and the Down East Coastal Corridor from Eastport to Ellsworth.

“The CCC management plan will help the Maine Department of Transportation identify transportation improvements that enjoy widespread public support throughout eastern Washington County and not just from a single town or stakeholder group,” Duchesne said. She said high-priority projects with both regional focus and popular support are more likely to rise to the top of desirable projects for state and federal funding. The changes recommended by the CCC plan will be implemented over the next 10 to 15 years, she said.

“Within Washington County, the CCC plan will focus primarily on the north-south movement between Eastport and Danforth,” she said. “However, other parts of Washington County should also be included to the extent they contribute to transportation with the CCC.”

At the meeting, advisory committee members agreed that the Canadian Coastal Corridor should include:

• All of the Route 190 peninsula between Eastport and Route 1.

• Route 1 from the junction of Route 214 in Pembroke, plus all shoreline routes east of Route 1 from Pembroke to Calais.

• Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge — Baring section.

• Stud Mill Road to the border between Hancock and Washington counties, including Grand Lake Stream Road and the network of private logging roads.

• Route 6.

• South Princeton Road, Charlotte Road and all of Routes 214 and 191.

• All small ports, harbors and water access points, both fresh and saltwater, and the port at Eastport.

Duchesne said the meeting participants then brainstormed about future growth in Washington County. They identified energy development, tourism and natural resource extraction, such as logging and pulp, as the three major areas. Some of the suggestions for these areas included establishing a seasonal ferry service between Eastport and Lubec, expanding tourist services on the CCC, developing small harbors as tourism destinations, developing freshwater and saltwater access points, seeking ways to separate tourism traffic and commercial traffic, and examining the feasibility of rail tourism that could blend passenger and freight services.

Duchesne said members of the Passamaquoddy Tribe said that if an intermodal facility is established at Pembroke or Perry, the tribe would prefer that any increase in rail-to-truck traffic be routed across Old Eastport Road in Perry and Toll Road in Eastport, rather than down Route 190. Route 190 travels through the heart of the Sipayik Reservation, she said. This plan, however, would require the construction of a new bridge, she added.

The committee also suggested examining the feasibility of reviving a rail route between Baileyville and an old siding in Tomah Township for wood extraction.

“The final task for the advisory committee was to examine each of the transportation modes — rail, highway, telecommunications, cyclists and pedestrians and air — and identify specific improvements that could benefit eastern Washington County,” Duchesne said. There were dozens of suggestions, she said, and they will be expanded and prioritized at future meetings.

Some of the suggestions included widening road shoulders, reconstructing major routes or providing better maintenance, expanding the current 25-car limit on trains coming into Woodland, improving telecommunications, extending the Sipayik Trail all the way to Eastport, developing a Quoddy Loop bicycle touring circuit through Maine into New Brunswick and assessing current airports and offerings.

Duchesne said the committee ran out of time to discuss marine transportation but that it will be a priority at the next meeting. She said the next meeting date has not been established but will take place in late February or early March.

To be added to the list of stakeholders who are notified of coming meetings, contact Duchesne at smduchesne@roadrunner.com or 735-5436.

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