Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Would Maine rail abandonment overburden highways?

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A draft environmental assessment on the proposed abandonment of 233 miles of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway right-of-way in northern Maine has found that loss of this line could divert the equivalent of as many as 73,344 truck trips per year onto Maine’s highways and increase annual fuel consumption by 3.3 million gallons. This is based on the estimate that it would take four trucks to replace every railcar.


The Section of Environmental Analysis at the Surface Transportation Board in its draft review, released Friday, found that the estimated diversion mma_rail_map.jpgof rail traffic to highway would appear to be “within the level of traffic allowed by area roads.”

The draft report also recommended steps to ease the impact of the rail salvage operation that would follow any abandonment.

The MM&A seeks to abandon the lines because they do not generate enough revenue. The Maine Department of Transportation and congressional representatives asked the STB to study the impacts of abandonment. 

Public comments on the draft environmental assessment may be sent in writing to the Surface Transportation Board, Case Control Unit, Washington, DC 20423, attention Diana Wood. Comments may also be submitted through the STB website by clicking on “E-Filing.” In all communications, reference Docket No. AB 1043 (Sub-No. 1).

The Surface Transportation Board has scheduled a public hearing at the District Courthouse in Presque Isle, Maine, on May 10 at 9 a.m. “The Board specifically wants to hear public feedback on the effects the abandonment and additional truck traffic would have on local and state roads,” said the STB. The draft environmental assessment can be found at under “Environmental Matters” then under “Key Cases.”

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