BREWER, Maine — The proposal that Maine transportation officials recently selected as their new preferred connector route to link Route 9 and Interstate 395 does not meet the state’s own criteria, resident Larry Adams told the City Council on Tuesday.
Adams had downloaded maps and I-395-Route 9 transportation study data from the Maine Department of Transportation’s website concerning the proposed route to ease traffic flow between Canadian Maritime Provinces and the federal highway system.
“Does it pass the study purpose? Well no,” he said. “Does it meet the [U.S.] Army Corps of Engineers purpose? No.”
Adams, who two weeks ago informed Brewer city leaders about the MDOT’s new preferred route, went on to show the state’s data from the last Public Advisory Committee meeting in April 2009 that shows the state’s new preferred route — 2B2 — does not meet the system linkage issue and doesn’t solve traffic congestion. It did past muster for safety concerns, the data show.
The 2B2 route would extend I-395 at its Wilson Street junction and roughly follow the Holden-Brewer line, mostly on the Brewer side, until entering Eddington and connecting with 4.5 miles of rebuilt Route 9. It would not connect with any other roads.
“Isn’t that rather odd that something that doesn’t pass four of the five needs” is the preferred choice, Adams said.
“According to the route comparison, 2B2 does not satisfy the purpose or needs of the study, it exceeds the design criteria and it displaces 22 residents,” Adams said later, reading from a July 2004 Bangor Daily News article. “The 3EIK-2 route meets all of the DOT study requirements and displaces only two homes.”
The state selected 3EIK-2 as its preferred route in 2003 and recently changed to 2B2, the route preferred by Holden.
3EIK-2 would extend I-395 by almost two miles along the southern side of U.S. Route 1A in Holden before turning northward and winding through mostly unpopulated areas until crossing Route 9, circumventing East Eddington and reconnecting to Route 9 at the Eddington-Clifton town line.
While the state has a preferred route, transportation officials also have left two other alternatives — 5A2B2 and 5B2B2 — on the list for comparison, MDOT spokesman Ted Talbot said Tuesday.
The Federal Highway Administration, which eventually will pay for the project, the Maine Department of Transportation and the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to study the three alternatives in the spring of 2011.
The 5A2B2 route extends I-395 at its most southerly point by approximately one mile and then turns north to a junction with U.S. Route 1A, roughly following the Holden-Brewer line, mostly on the Brewer side, until entering Eddington and connecting with Route 9.
The 5B2B2 route would extend I-395 at its Wilson Street junction and would wind north toward the Eastern Avenue and Lambert Road junction, then would parallel the Brewer-Holden town line until crossing into Eddington and turning east toward Route 9.
“It breaks my heart that this happened,” Adams said. “I don’t feel I can protect my home.”
Former City Councilor Manley DeBeck, who was the council’s representative on the public advisory committee and worked on the project for nearly a decade, said after the last committee meeting, “it sounded like, at least to me, that it would be put on the shelf” because of the lack of federal funding.
MDOT estimates the project will cost $70 million to $101 million.
DeBeck went on to say, “I smell a rat.”
Mayor Jerry Goss said the council would have an order concerning the proposed connector before them in February. The last official action the council took was in April 2009, when it endorsed the state’s preferred route, which now has been abandoned.
“Hopefully, we can plan a course that will be effective for our citizens” and not circumvent 10 years of hard work, Councilor Joseph Ferris said.