Monday, March 15, 2010

Maine rail abandonment case wins public hearing

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Responding to request from the state of Maine and other concerned parties, the Surface Transportation Board has decided to hold a public hearing this spring in Maine on the application of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway to abandon 233 miles of line in Aroostook and Penobscot counties.

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“This proposed abandonment would affect many shippers and the local and regional economy and it is important that the Board hears from as many voices as possible,” said STB Chairman Daniel R. Elliott III. “The best way to do that is for Washington to go to Maine instead of Maine coming to Washington.”

The hearing will be scheduled after the April 26 deadline for the written record but before the end of May.

The official request of Maine for a hearing, filed March 4, won quick support from shippers and politicians, including U.S. Sen. Susan M. Collins (R-Maine) and Rep. Michael H. Michaud (D-Maine), as well as Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-Minn.), chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, all of whom echoed the call for a public hearing.