December 13, 2017
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Maine east-west highway timeline

By Nick Sambides Jr., BDN Staff

1990 – Leaders at the New England Governors-Eastern Canadian Premiers’ conference in Hartford, Connecticut, recommend the creation of an east-west highway through Maine that would link the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec.

1991 – Departing Speaker of the House John L. Martin told Presque Isle Rotarians that the creation of a long proposed 100-mile east-west highway from Ashland to the Quebec border would be the “saving grace” for Aroostook County.

1997 – State Rep. Pamela Hatch, D-Skowhegan, leads a small group of legislators calling for preliminary studies of a highway and a second bill calling for a $100 million bond issue which Hatch said would be supplemented by federal money. The highway would follow Route 9 from Calais to Bangor and then Route 2 to the New Hampshire border at Gilead. In Skowhegan, one branch of the new highway would split from Route 2 and follow Route 201 to the northern Maine border with Quebec near Jackman. Total projected cost: $1.1 billion.

1999 — A study prepared for the Maine Department of Transportation concludes that the benefits of a four-lane divided highway across Maine don’t justify the costs, recommending instead that Maine work to improve existing roads. Although a new highway running from Calais to Quebec or New Hampshire could generate as many as 3,500 jobs in the next three decades in construction, tourism, business services and other fields, the study found that the cost of creating each of those jobs would range from $200,000 to $400,000.

2005 – President George W. Bush signs a federal transportation bill allocating $1.1 billion to the state over the next six years, including $28 million for the east-west highway.

2007 — President and CEO of Cianbro Corp. Peter Vigue unveiled a proposal for a toll highway from Calais to Coburn Gore, a privately-funded venture that he said was the only solution to the pressing need for a better way to cross the state. It’s cost: $2.1 billion.

2012 — Gov. Paul LePage signed into law a bill setting aside $300,000 to study the feasibility of Vigue’s proposal. Environmentalists say Canadian businesses and truckers will benefit from a short route across Maine, not Mainers or tourists. The project also lacks enough interchanges and would have adverse potential environmental impacts, they say. The Sierra Club calls the project one of the worst in the U.S.

2013 – Vigue says he supports the decision of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee to repeal a feasibility study for the proposed highway. He says the project could go forward anyway and a study “is something that can be done and be done by a third party.” The Transportation Committee votes unanimously to recommend repealing the $300,000 feasibility study for the proposed $2.1 billion private east-west highway.

Source: BDN archives

 


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