Right now, as this is written, the railroad line from Brunswick to Augusta is under consideration for immediate conversion to a trail only by the Maine Department of Transportation and a trail advocacy group. If they succeed, rail opportunities between Brunswick, Augusta, Waterville, Newport and Bangor could be permanently and irrevocably lost. These would be lost opportunities for intercity rail, commuter rail, the advantages passenger rail brings to economic development, tourism, access to colleges. The prosperity that trains bring to whole regions, including the green infrastructure that we all say we want, would be lost probably forever.

Several things about this disingenuous process do not pass the straight face test on any level and are completely out of order for an orderly plan of Maine’s transportation needs.

First, the state of Maine is required to create a revised statewide rail plan. The current plan is several years out of date and the revised plan has not been completed.

Second, there is a bill that has been passed by the state to study the propensity of restoring the rail line from Brunswick to Bangor. That plan has been partially subsidized by Bangor, Waterville and Augusta. That study needs to be completed before any thought of rail conversion and before any hearings on trail conversion should occur.

Third, the consultant on the cost benefits of trail conversion is also the consultant for the trail interests.

Fourth, why don’t Waterville and Bangor have seats at the table?


What’s wrong with this whole process is that the planning and analysis are completely upside down and out of order. The trail people have cleverly skirted the proper process to the detriment of a half a million Mainers who would benefit by having commuter rail that would be connected to the National Rail Network. They have co-opted the process in a disingenuous and self-serving manner. There’s no other way to say this, but public transportation in Maine north of Brunswick will never happen ever if the trail supporters have their way.

The trail supporters and the state of Maine say that the tracks can always be reconverted from trail to rail. Out of all the rail conversions to trails in the United States, only one has been reconverted back to rail. Also, there is this myth that rail and trail can coexist side by side. That can only happen if the right-of-way has adequate width to design from the beginning a corridor where with the speeds necessary for success, and trail can co-exist.

Speak up! Demand proper transparent planning and seek the truth. Maine’s citizens deserve, the economic opportunity of a public transportation system for all of Maine’s residents, not just for special interest trail groups.

Ask yourself, if the trail interests really care about rails to trails, wouldn’t they be promoting the railroads so they could put their bicycles on the trains and access the hundreds of other trails in this state? That’s the ultimate rails to the trails — that’s the railroad we need to have.

Tell the governor to stop the train great train robbery, stop stealing our green transportation, and work to create green real prosperity for everyone.

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