AUBURN — Officials will cut the ribbon Wednesday for the ceremonial construction start of a rail line at the intermodal facility that will help freight service now and allow freight and passenger rail to coexist in the future, according to Bob Thompson, executive director at the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments.
The project is threefold: Restoring 6,600 feet of the old Rangeley Branch line, building a 400-foot spur and building 1,500 feet of siding so trains can more easily pull over to let another pass.
It’s been in the works more than 10 years, he said.
The project’s $3 million comes from a state bond issue several years ago.
“(The track) has been abandoned for quite a period of time,” Thompson said. “What it does is connects the main line of the St. Lawrence and Atlantic back to the Lewiston-Auburn Railroad, roughly at the intersection of the West Hardscrabble Road.”
The restored track allows room for more businesses to tie in and connect to rail in Auburn and Poland.
Construction started a few weeks ago. The project is expected to finish this fall.
“It’s one of those things, it’s a hidden little gem,” Thompson said. “I don’t think a lot of people realize the order of magnitude of activity that happens with rail freight movement in this area. Hopefully they’ll get excited about it when they realize what an asset we have here to work with.”