It’s been over six years since the Cianbro Corp. published its feasibility study on the 220-mile strip of industrial development known as the east-west corridor.
Since Peter Vigue met strident opposition airing his plan before the Penobscot County Commissioners in Bangor in May 2013, the status of this construction project that would be the largest in Maine’s history has been shrouded in the same secrecy that has characterized the process all along. No one in the affected regions asked for this project, no democratic process spawned it, yet many have experienced Cianbro employees showing up in our towns telling us “this is going to happen.” As a result, many Maine citizens living near the proposed route continue to live with the stress of uncertainty, unable to make informed decisions about their futures.
In addition, many Maine working people who passionately believe the east-west corridor is inappropriate development for our state are spending their own money and time organizing and raising awareness about the effects of this project. There are no deep pocket corporations sponsoring the opposition.
It’s simply not right that a Maine corporation can wield this kind of power and control over Maine people, and what we have here is nothing more than a local example of the corrosive corporate hegemony extant in this country. It’s past time for the Cianbro Corp. to step up and not just make the process transparent, but take this boondoggle of a project off the table once and for all.
Invest in ports, rail, not a new highway
We already have two good east-west highways. A much more cost-effective approach to enhance east-west commerce would be to accentuate use of the St. Lawrence and Atlantic and the Central Maine and Quebec railroads. Keep in mind, the Canadian Pacific bridged across Maine to the Canadian Maritime ports. How? Further development of intermodal (truck/container) and carload distribution facilities. Throw in traffic development to the Port of
Searsport. If the traffic is truly there, a facility in the Bangor area coupled with facilities in St. John should take off. Keep in mind rail distance from Toronto to Searsport is far less than to Halifax, while relative steaming time between Halifax and Searsport is about one day.
We need a coordinated marketing effort to accentuate assets in place. Let’s say $30 million is invested in the Bangor area and $40 million elsewhere for increasing asset capabilities of the rails. Seventy million dollars is far less than the predicted $2.1 billion to build a highway. A cheaper way to test the need and can be accomplished in a shorter time frame. One only needs to look at the joint public/private intermodal crescent corridor project underway from New Jersey into the deep south.
Maine, north of Bangor
How disappointing to watch the Maine episode of “Aerial America.” Producers didn’t do much research north of Bangor, missing two-thirds of the state including Aroostook County — the biggest county in the state. There was no mention of the beautiful St. John Valley, the Allagash wilderness, the logging industry, the potato blossoms and harvest time should have at least been mentioned to name a few. The county was host to the recent International Acadian Festival.
Don’t get me wrong, Bangor south is majestic with all the coastal beauty and history. They missed the dynamics that comprise the entire state. I hope the portrayal of other states is more complete for the enjoyment of their residents, otherwise, they will be as disappointed as we were.
A big thank you to Mark DeRoche, manager of Lily Bay State Park in Beaver Cove, just north of Greenville. On Jan. 1, he hosted an eclectic group of us on a First Day Hike with the assistance of park employees Sam Squires and Liz Munn. The snow was packed, and the air was crisp. The 2.5 mile-hike featured a bonfire with a view of Moosehead Lake complete with warm beverages and homemade treats.
Lily Bay was one of five Maine state parks offering hikes on New Year’s Day, and this one highlighted the winter activities in the park, including ice fishing. I learned that Lily Bay State Park is open through the winter and that DeRoche and his crew groom and maintain miles of trails for cross country skiing and snowshoeing. This was a delightful start to 2015, and I’ll be back before the snow melts.