Dividing the State: Proposed East-West Corridor Affects Washington County

Link to Original Articleby Hillary Savage | Machias Valley News Observer | January 19, 2013
A highway bisecting Maine, running from Canada in the East, to Canada in the West has brought much concern from the people of Maine. Ranging from environmental concerns, economic and business, to quality of life and property rights, the proposed East-West Highway by Peter Vigue and Cianbro has already divided the state.An informational hearing, coordinated by Sunrise County Economic Council (SCEC) was held in Eastport on Friday. Darryl Brown, Cianbro’s Program Manager for the East-West Highway project presented to the audience a slideshow about the project, where it stands now, and ways that the company is taking concerns into account through the planning stages.

 

“We’re trying to be as transparent at this point,” Brown stated at the start of the meeting. “I’m passionate to say that this project is going to happen, needs to happen and will happen.”

Citing young people as the biggest export of Maine, Brown and Cianbro are confident that a highway will bring economic opportunity that will bring young people back to the state. The business he expects to be along the highway, however, include gas stations, mainly Irving (a Canadian company) as well as distribution centers for large business, such as Wal-Mart that will be along the proposed trade route.

The concept of global trade, and the urgency put on the need to “get up to speed and accept it” is something that was stressed at the meeting. Container ships which are the most effective, efficient, cheapest and widely used form of transportation of goods around the world are now causing the expansion of the Panama and Suez canals. These canals are the highways for global trade, and Brown and Cianbro are of the opinion that with Eastport having the deepest water of any port on the East coast, a highway running nearby is a clear solution to the economic problem.

Two young women, both Maine residents seemed most concerned with the quality of life issues that would come with the building of the highway. Meg Gilmartin, who lives in Corinth attended the meeting, saying that the proposed highway would run two miles from her property, and there has been no public meeting held in her town about the project. “Maine is full of strong, small communities and a healthy environment. This will destroy both,” she stated.

Chris Buchannan of the group Defending Water for Life in Maine said, “Maine’s greatest assetts are the people and the environment. It is why people have stayed and lived here for so many years. This would ruin the culture and environment that make it possible for people to live here to have that quality of life.”

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