BREWER, Maine — State and federal officials are inviting written comments from the public on a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Interstate 395-Route 9 connector — designed to ease heavy truck traffic between the Canadian Maritimes and the federal highway system — and will hold the first of two open houses from 3 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Brewer Auditorium.
Representatives from the Federal Highway Administration, the Maine Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be on hand to answer questions about the project.
The second open house is scheduled for 1-4:30 p.m. May 2 at the Eddington town office and will be followed by a formal public hearing, scheduled for 6-8 p.m. at Eddington Elementary School.
“The open houses will include several booths to be staffed with experts to answer the public’s questions about the study, environmental and property issues, as well as the design,” DOT spokesman Ted Talbot said in a press release.
State transportation officials have been studying a Brewer-Holden-Eddington connector since before 2000. Maine transportation officials recently eliminated the proposed route they selected in 2003 — which was supported by Brewer city councilors and would have cut through the mostly unpopulated center of Holden — and have now selected 2B-2 as their preferred route.
Brewer and Eddington leaders learned in January that the DOT had changed its preferred route without informing them, and last month Brewer councilors signed a resolve supporting the “no build” option.
DOT’s new preferred route would extend I-395 at its Wilson Street junction and would roughly follow the Holden-Brewer line until entering Eddington and connecting with Route 9.
The DOT and the Federal Highway Administration also are officially considering two other alternatives — 5A2B-2 and 5B2B-2 — which are similar to 2B-2, and a “no build” option.
The 5A2B-2 route would extend I-395 at its southernmost point by approximately one mile and 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 would parallel the Brewer-Holden town line until crossing into Eddington and turning east toward Route 9.
The DOT and the FHA released the draft environmental impact statement and a Clean Water Act permit application last month in support of the I-395-Route 9 Transportation Study.
The agencies invite comments on the decision to identify alternative 2B-2 as the preferred alternative, Talbot said.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
Public comments are due by May 15.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is expected to open public comments for the water permit application for the I-395-Route 9 connector in mid-April, Jay Clement, project manager, said Monday.