BANGOR, Maine — Penobscot County commissioners will hear the leading proponent’s side of the contentious debate over the proposed 220-mile east-west highway on Tuesday morning.
Cianbro Corp. chairman and CEO Peter Vigue and Darryl Brown, manager of the $2.1 billion project, are scheduled to update commissioners around 10 a.m. in the third floor courtroom of the historic Penobscot County Courthouse at 97 Hammond St. The meeting is open to the public.
The meeting comes less than two months after a commissioners meeting during which more than a dozen Penobscot and Piscataquis County residents blasted the proposal, arguing that it would change the face of the region, put the environment at risk and wouldn’t have a significant positive effect on the state’s economy.
Penobscot County commissioners decided they needed to hear from the other side before taking any positions on the issue.
Brown said during an interview Monday that he and Vigue would be “trying to dispel some of the misinformation that continues to be out there,” Brown said.
For example, some residents continue to express concerns that land for the 500-foot-wide corridor would be acquired through use of eminent domain. Others believe the corridor would be closer to 2,000 feet wide.
“We keep emphasizing that’s not the case,” Brown said.
Brown said during a February Franklin County Chamber of Commerce business breakfast that the embattled project is “going to happen,” according to the Lewiston Sun Journal.
Commissioners will hear Cianbro’s explanation of the expected economic benefits of the project, including thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of maintenance jobs after construction is complete, as well as increased trade and transportation opportunities, according to Brown.
“It’s very critical that we meet with the citizens about this project and let them know that this clearly will be a game-changer for maine’s economy,” Brown said.
Brown said the route of the proposed corridor continues to change on a weekly basis, and it would be foolhardy to release preliminary ideas because they are constantly evolving. Concept maps of a potential route have been used in Cianbro presentations and circulated by residents. Some of those along the rough route expressed concerns about the corridor dividing their communities and compromising their rural way of life.
Brown said the route would be revealed once a solid path is decided based on the minimum possible effect to property owners and risk to the environment.