BREWER, Maine — Residents interested in telling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers what they think about a proposal to build a connector road between Interstate 395 with Route 9, a major east-west link between the Canadian Maritimes and the Bangor area, have until May 17 to express their views.
The Maine Department of Transportation has requested a permit from the Army Corps to fill in wetlands affected by construction of the two-lane, limited-access highway to ease traffic in the Eddington-Holden-Brewer area.
“The proposed project is located in Felts Brook and other unnamed streams and adjacent wetlands within Brewer, Eddington and Holden,” an Army Corps notice about the open comment period states.
The Federal Highway Administration and the Maine Department of Transportation also are accepting comments from the public on a draft environmental impact statement for their preferred route — 2B-2 — two others, and a “no build” option.
The DOT’s new preferred route, announced in January to the surprise of municipal leaders in Brewer and Eddington, would extend I-395 at its Wilson Street junction and roughly follow the Holden-Brewer line until entering Eddington and connecting with Route 9.
The two other alternatives — 5A2B-2 and 5B2B-2 — under consideration are similar to 2B-2.
The 5A2B-2 route would extend I-395 at its southernmost point by approximately one mile, then turn 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 5B2B-2 route would extend I-395 at its Wilson Street junction and wind north toward the Eastern Avenue and Lambert Road junction, then parallel the Brewer-Holden town line until crossing into Eddington and turning east toward Route 9.
“The Corps is seeking public comment to help determine whether any of these alignments is the least environmentally damaging practicable alternative,” the notice states. “Compensatory mitigation will be required for any unavoidable impacts to waterways and wetlands.”
Representatives of the Federal Highway Administration, the Maine Department of Transportation and the Army Corps held an open house in Brewer earlier this month and will hold a second open house from 1 to 4:30 p.m. May 2 at the Eddington town office.
The formal public hearing is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. May 2, at Eddington Elementary School.
The debate over the connector route has been going on since 2000. When I-395 was extended to Brewer and the Veterans Memorial Bridge was constructed, much of the truck traffic that had used Route 9 in Eddington to connect from Canada to Brewer started using Route 46 as a connector, which prompted residents to request that an alternative route be built.
Comments for the Army Corps on the water permit application for the proposed connector should be marked with the permit request number, File No. NAE-2001-02253, and can be made by letter or email until the end of the workday May 17.
Letters may be mailed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Maine Project Office, Attn.: Jay Clement, 675 Western Ave. No. 3, Manchester 04351. Email comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Public comments for the DOT and FHA are due by May 15.
Public comments for the DOT on the draft environmental study can be sent to Russell D. Charette, MaineDOT, 16 State House Station, Augusta 04333-0016, or by email at email@example.com.
Public comments for the FHA on the draft environmental study can be sent to Mark Hasselmann, FHWA Maine Division, Edmund S. Muskie Federal Building, 40 Western Ave., Room 614, Augusta 04433, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.