PORTLAND — The Federal Railroad Administration has cleared all legal hurdles for the state to take ownership of 233 miles of rail in northern Maine.

Sen. Susan Collins, who made the announcement today, said the state can now take ownership and rehabilitate the track to preserve rail service for nearly two dozen employers.

For more than a century, the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway has carried products in and out of northern Maine. But that nearly came to an end when the rail line asked last year to abandon the segment from Madawaska to Millinocket.

The state ultimately agreed to pay $20.1 million for the rails used to haul lumber, paper products, logs and wood chips. The federal government chipped in $10.5 million for track upgrades.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.