New bills to preserve State control over transportation development, and eminent domain

Op-Ed by Chris Buchanan | March 25, 2015

The proposed East-West Transportation, Communications, and Utilities Corridor has raised important public policy questions regarding the state’s transportation policy. Two bills have been introduced by our Maine legislators to ensure the proper role for the state in transportation planning, maintenance, and development, without increasing regulations or stymying infrastructure that is desired by local people. The bills would create an equal playing field for all significant transportation proposals that may utilize the Public-Private-Partnership law.

LD506, An Act to Improve Public-Private Transportation Partnerships, introduced by Rep. Ralph Chapman (D-Brooksville) and cosponsored by Senator Paul Davis (R-Piscataquis), will be heard by the Transportation Committee on Thursday, March 26. The bill’s summary states:“This bill changes the law governing public-private partnerships to develop transportation facilities by removing the Department of Transportation’s authority to receive unsolicited proposals and to limit those proposals solicited by the department to those in accordance with the Sensible Transportation Policy Act.”

LR 373, An Act to Prohibit the Delegation of Eminent Domain Power to Private Entities sponsored by Sen. Paul Davis prevents eminent domain from being used by a private entity for transportation projects, or in certain Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) on behalf of a private entity.

The need for state legislation has been clearly demonstrated by the actions taken by local communities to enact local laws designed to protect their community from the proposed East-West Corridor when adequate state policy has been lacking. Eight communities have passed a local ordinance, be it a moratorium, referendum, local-self governance, or land use ordinance. These communities so far include: Abbot, Charleston, Dexter, Dover-Foxcroft, Garland, Monson, Parkman, and Sangerville.

In addition, local people of all political persuasions have formed groups in opposition to the proposed Corridor. One such group started by Grandmothers from Charleston, “Grandmothers against the East-West Corridor,” get together every fourth Friday to lead a silent vigil in front of Cianbro’s Pittsfield headquarters. All this is telling how many people feel threatened and left vulnerable by Maine’s existing state laws.

Over the past three years, Stop the East-West Corridor has focused on developing resources, advocating for transparency, and supporting decentralized local resistance to the proposed East-West Corridor. We are all Maine residents working together to help support people with a variety of concerns, who are still unable to find answers to their questions from private or public officials. We appreciate that our state legislators are sponsoring these bills in response.

It is time for the state to ensure that we don’t have any more unfounded proposals which waste taxpayers time, money, and resources the way the East-West Corridor is. The bills introduced by Senator Davis and Representative Chapman go a long way to address this problem and deserve the support of all the people of Maine.

Although Cianbro has been mostly quiet about its progress, Cianbro President and COO Andi Vigue voiced continued support and commitment to the Corridor in a WABI-TV 5 news broadcast on June 16, 2014, and Maine Magazine published a feature piece in the May 2014 issue with a photo of Cianbro CEO Peter Vigue in Wesley where the Corridor would “cross Route 9”. Like an inexplicable dark cloud on the horizon that never goes away, the Corridor proposal lingers.

The fact that the East-West Corridor is not in the public’s best interest was well documented by the state in its 1999 Feasibility Studies of an East-West Highway. These studies explored environmental impacts and socio economic impacts of a new-build public toll highway from Calais to Coburn Gore, along with several other options. In the end, the state concluded that the new build option would create the most environmental impact, would not significantly increase manufacturing, would not stop out-migration of population, and was likely to create a negative bypass effect on rural downtowns, especially in Washington County that is primarily served by East-West roads.

The pricetag for construction at that time was $1.2 billion, although the total costs, incorporating all these factors and not just money, were estimated at $439,239 in 2015 and $229,691 in 2030 per job created. Therefore, the state concluded that the costs outweighed the benefits. In other words, there was an overall negative economic impact of that new build public toll highway. Instead, the state decided to improve Routes 9 and 2, a plan that the MDOT is still pursuing.

Why then are we still having to mobilize against this ill-conceived proposal for the East-West Corridor? It is time for reasonable state laws that prioritize the public interest in planning state transportation infrastructure.

Chris Buchanan is the Statewide Coordinator of STEWC and Maine Coordinator of Defending Water for Life, and lives in Belgrade. More info at www.stopthecorridor.org

Mainebiz magazine promotes Peter Vigue and EWC

Link to Article

February 23, 2015 | Mainebiz

Like the real estate motto, Maine offers location, location, location

During hard times or hard winters, Maine and Mainers chug along. Yet there are always those asking how Maine can grow and prosper.

Recently, I had an interesting conversation with Peter Vigue, chairman of the Pittsfield-based Cianbro Cos., the largest construction firm based in Maine, with $530 million in annual sales and 4,000 employees. Ever since I joined Mainebiz nearly a year ago, people, including U.S. Sen. Angus King, have urged me to talk with Vigue and get his take on economic development.

“One of our greatest strengths is people know how to survive. People are resilient, they survive somehow,” Vigue says of Mainers. “We’re independent. I’m not saying we’ll succeed, but we’ll survive.”

He cites residents of Washington County who make a living by “tipping” trees, raking blueberries and digging bloodworms.

But Vigue — who was born in Caribou, went to the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine and lives in the Pittsfield area — says independence can have a downside. Maine’s geography, the great distance between regions and other factors mean it’s harder to get various factions to work together. He cites the number of chambers of commerce, some of which overlap in coverage, creating competition instead of cooperation.

“How do you get everyone going in the same direction?” he asks.

The challenge is the northern half of the state continues to see outward migration and a dwindling number of jobs.

He says he’s worked with governors — most recently, Angus King (when he was in that role), John Baldacci and Paul LePage.

“It’s not about politics. It’s about the people. We’re in a rut,” says Vigue, adding that it’s the business community that could drive change.

The solutions?

“If you’re going to be part of an economy, you need connectivity,” he says. That applies as much to technology as infrastructure.

“What is the thing Maine has always had? Natural resources and location. We could fill sailing ships in Bangor and go anywhere you needed to go … From [shipping] lumber to pulp and paper,” says Vigue.

Now, with the decline of Maine’s paper industry, “we’re refocused on playing defense,” he says.

Yet Vigue stresses the need to again use the waterways to Maine’s advantage. He’s a big proponent of expanding the shipping facility at Eastport, one of Maine’s three deep water ports (along with Searsport and Portland). Expansion would mean having to build rail access (at present, the closest rail line is 16 miles away, at Ayers Junction). Yet the “deep water” part of the port already exists. Even as the Port of New York and New Jersey spends $7 billion to deepen its channel to 50 feet, Eastport has a natural resource with its depth of 64 feet. Deeper channels mean larger ships and greater cargo capacities.

Leading ports in New York; Norfolk, Va.; and Savannah, Ga., are reaching capacity. Ports on the West Coast are beset by labor issues and high costs. Eastport, by contrast, has great potential and is a step closer to ports in Europe and the Suez Canal, Vigue says.

Though the effort has stalled, Vigue continues to push for an east-west highway that could connect Maine to Quebec on one side and New Brunswick on the other (running from Coburn Gore on the west to Calais on the east).

“The real challenge isn’t about a highway,” he says. “We’re within one day’s travel from 40% of the U.S. population. What do we have that other people want? What is sustainable?”

Maine’s agriculture potential can also be used to our advantage, he says. Food is one thing everyone needs. As a native of Aroostook County, he has a natural inclination to promote the agricultural resources there: potatoes, broccoli, beef and other products. And products with a Maine label continue to have widespread appeal.

“We have 1.3 million people. We can turn this around on a dime,” Vigue says. “But we need a strategy and a plan.”

Letter to the editor: Cianbro still brandishing corridor ax

Link to original article.

January 4, 2015

It’s been over six years since the Cianbro Corp. published its feasibility study on the 220-mile strip of industrial development known as the East-West Corridor.

Since Cianbro CEO Peter Vigue met with strident opposition after airing his plan before the Penobscot County commissioners in Bangor in May 2013, the status of this construction project – which would be the largest in Maine’s history – has been shrouded in the same secrecy that has characterized the process all along.

No one in the affected regions asked for this project, no democratic process spawned it, yet many have experienced Cianbro employees showing up in our towns telling us, “This is going to happen.” As a result, many Maine citizens living near the proposed route continue to live with the stress of uncertainty, unable to make informed decisions about their futures.

In addition, many Maine working people who passionately believe that the East-West Corridor is inappropriate development for our state are spending their own money and time organizing and raising awareness about the effects of this project. There are no deep-pocketed corporations sponsoring the opposition.

It’s simply not right that a Maine corporation can wield this kind of power and control over Maine people, and what we have here is nothing more than a local example of the corrosive corporate hegemony extant in this country.

It’s past time for the Cianbro Corp. to step up, and not just make the process transparent, but also take this boondoggle of a project off the table once and for all.

Tod Cheney 

Blue Hill

Note: this Letter also published in the Ellsworth American, and Bangor Daily News

Maine east-west highway timeline

1990 – Leaders at the New England Governors-Eastern Canadian Premiers’ conference in Hartford, Connecticut, recommend the creation of an east-west highway through Maine that would link the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec.

1991 – Departing Speaker of the House John L. Martin told Presque Isle Rotarians that the creation of a long proposed 100-mile east-west highway from Ashland to the Quebec border would be the “saving grace” for Aroostook County.

1997 – State Rep. Pamela Hatch, D-Skowhegan, leads a small group of legislators calling for preliminary studies of a highway and a second bill calling for a $100 million bond issue which Hatch said would be supplemented by federal money. The highway would follow Route 9 from Calais to Bangor and then Route 2 to the New Hampshire border at Gilead. In Skowhegan, one branch of the new highway would split from Route 2 and follow Route 201 to the northern Maine border with Quebec near Jackman. Total projected cost: $1.1 billion.

1999 — A study prepared for the Maine Department of Transportation concludes that the benefits of a four-lane divided highway across Maine don’t justify the costs, recommending instead that Maine work to improve existing roads. Although a new highway running from Calais to Quebec or New Hampshire could generate as many as 3,500 jobs in the next three decades in construction, tourism, business services and other fields, the study found that the cost of creating each of those jobs would range from $200,000 to $400,000.

2005 – President George W. Bush signs a federal transportation bill allocating $1.1 billion to the state over the next six years, including $28 million for the east-west highway.

2007 — President and CEO of Cianbro Corp. Peter Vigue unveiled a proposal for a toll highway from Calais to Coburn Gore, a privately-funded venture that he said was the only solution to the pressing need for a better way to cross the state. It’s cost: $2.1 billion.

2012 — Gov. Paul LePage signed into law a bill setting aside $300,000 to study the feasibility of Vigue’s proposal. Environmentalists say Canadian businesses and truckers will benefit from a short route across Maine, not Mainers or tourists. The project also lacks enough interchanges and would have adverse potential environmental impacts, they say. The Sierra Club calls the project one of the worst in the U.S.

2013 – Vigue says he supports the decision of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee to repeal a feasibility study for the proposed highway. He says the project could go forward anyway and a study “is something that can be done and be done by a third party.” The Transportation Committee votes unanimously to recommend repealing the $300,000 feasibility study for the proposed $2.1 billion private east-west highway.

Source: BDN archives

Dead or dormant? Proponents, opponents weigh in on status of east-west highway proposal

BDN PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY ERIC ZELZ
Posted Dec. 30, 2014, at 5:37 a.m.
Last modified Dec. 30, 2014, at 5:53 a.m.

PITTSFIELD, Maine — The proposal to build a $2.1 billion, privately funded east-west highway connecting two Canadian provinces through Maine is not dead, just on the back burner, a spokesman for the plan’s main proponent said Monday.

“We have sort of lowered the temperature on that project a little bit for a whole bunch of reasons,” said Darryl Brown, program manager for the east-west highway project at Cianbro Corp. “We still are very passionate about the fact that this corridor is much needed and certainly would provide a transportation alternative to the west and upper midwest, particularly in this time of global economy.”

“But in terms of actively pursuing some of the things that need to happen, we have not been as engaged as of late as we were a year ago,” Brown added. “There are other projects that Cianbro is involved in that take precedence.”

Company workers are still “spending some time on this determining where the best routing possibilities would lie,” he said. That’s about the extent of their efforts, he said.

Proponents and opponents agreed that the project is at least dormant.

“I would say it is in the slow lane, maybe the breakdown lane, certainly not the fast lane,” said Jym St. Pierre, Maine director of Restore: The North Woods, an environmental group that opposes the plan.

“I think it is on life support,” said former state Sen. Doug Thomas, R-Ripley, who supports the idea. “I am beginning to wonder if it will ever be built because the people who are for it are not as enthused as the people against it. The people who are against it are just worked right up. It is a political hot button.”

Maine Department of Transportation spokesman Ted Talbot said that as far as state officials are concerned, the highway plan “is on the same shelf it was on when it was shelved the last time,” in May 2013.

That’s when the Legislature’s Transportation Committee voted unanimously to repeal a $300,000 Maine DOT feasibility study of the highway in response to intense opposition, effectively killing any momentum the project might have developed. The “investor-grade” study would determine for investors whether the highway would be worth the expense, and give state officials a basis for future east-west highway planning, Thomas said.

The idea had been kicking around Maine for decades when Cianbro president Peter Vigue began promoting his company’s take on it in 2007. He said the 220-mile private highway would bisect Maine from Calais to Coburn Gore, connecting Canada’s Maritime Provinces with Quebec.

Messages left for Vigue seeking comment for this story were not returned. He has previously said that the highway would help Maine take advantage of its location by improving connectivity of eastern Canada and the interior United States with Atlantic trade routes to Europe and Asia, while drawing millions of dollars in investment and creating thousands of jobs.

It would be, he said, a particular boost for rural Maine communities devastated by the loss of traditional manufacturing and resource-based jobs.

But details about the highway, including its exact route, have been scarce, and environmental groups, small-business owners and residents of communities that could be affected by the project have opposed the plan through several legislative measures. One environmentalist claimed that it would cross or be in the viewshed of more than five dozen significant conservation and recreation areas.

Nine municipalities have passed ordinances or regulations opposing or requiring their approval of the highway. They are Abbott, Charleston, Dexter, Dover-Foxcroft, Garland, Monson, Parkman, Sangerville and Wellington, said Chris Buchanan, statewide coordinator of Stop The East-West Corridor. The towns, in general, fear losing the land needed to build the highway and the effects on their businesses and property values if it is constructed.

The opposition to it was among the things that made the study proposal easy for legislators to reject. Legislators assumed the public end of the public-private partnership would involve the state sinking tens to hundreds of millions of dollars into the highway, an unpalatable notion, said state Sen. Edward Mazurek, D-Rockland, former chairman of the Transportation Committee, the body that would take up a revised or resubmitted bill.

“Personally, I don’t think that it would [be taken up again]. There was a lot of discussion about it and the general consensus of it was that Route 2 basically is an east-west highway for the state,” Mazurek said. “The perception was that a few people would benefit from it but not most others in the state.”

The highway’s proponents appear to be keeping the issue under the radar, if they are dealing with it at all. Gov. Paul LePage, who conditionally supports the project, hasn’t made any public statements about it recently. His spokeswoman, Adrienne Bennett, did not return a recent email message. A spokeswoman for Eastern Maine Development Corp., another project proponent, declined to comment on it.

David Cole, a transportation consultant and former Maine Department of Transportation commissioner, said he is unaware of any promotion of the proposal occurring recently, while Sidney Mitchell, secretary to the Friends of the Piscataquis Valley group that opposes the project, said that group members hope to work with legislators this spring to disassemble parts of the laws that allow public-private partnerships.

Cole, who was DOT commissioner when Vigue began promoting the idea in 2007, supports improving northern Maine’s infrastructure, but said he thinks the state has a bigger opportunity to improve its east-to-west transportation infrastructure in the near future with its port-to-rail connections.

“Any proposal for a major east-west highway would require strong public support and need to make sense economically,” Cole said. “The economics have to be there before people are going to support any proposal. They have to know that the traffic is there, and to my knowledge, that hasn’t happened yet. That’s not saying whether an east-west highway is good or bad.”

Cole made a point that the state’s three gubernatorial candidates offered when the plan was discussed prior to the November election — that too little was known about the plan to determine whether it should be endorsed.

“I think at this point there are still a lot of unknowns about how a highway would work. Those questions would have to be answered and again, that’s something that needs a lot of public support,” Cole added.

Buchanan said she wished the idea would disappear.

“It seems unfair that people are living in limbo with no way to end what most people are perceiving as a threat,” she said. “That is the most important message I can say.”

Thomas, Cole and St. Pierre said they don’t see the project going away. They assume that Vigue and other proponents continue to work on it privately. The study bill could be revived publicly, Talbot said, by legislative action or upon LePage’s request.

“If doing an east-west highway were easy,” Cole said wryly, “it would have been done 50 years ago, right?”

BDN writers Alex Barber, Robert Long, and Mario Moretto contributed to this report.

Major power company signs on to wind and hydro transmission project through Maine

PORTLAND, Maine — National Grid, one of the region’s largest utilities, has signed on as a partner in a power transmission project that would link Maine wind projects and Canadian hydropower to population centers in New England.

Massachusetts-based Anbaric Transmission and National Grid on Tuesday announced a partnership to pursue electricity transmission projects, including the 1,000-megawatt Maine Green Line transmission project it originally proposed years ago.

The power line project would be buried through parts of eastern and northern Maine, traveling to Greater Boston along the floor of the Gulf of Maine.

The companies called the partnership the Green Line Infrastructure Alliance, which they said would focus on developing transmission projects to bring onshore wind from Maine and hydropower from eastern Canada into Massachusetts.

Ed Krapels, Anbaric’s chief executive, told The Boston Globe on Tuesday that the partnership gives his company the capital and resources to help finish its Maine Green Line project.

“We’re thrilled that National Grid sees working with Anbaric as a way to help them meet the needs of the region’s energy consumers,” said Krapels said in a prepared statement.

The alliance said on its website that it has identified 2,800 megawatts of transmission projects throughout the region that it anticipates could be delivered incrementally through 2028.

The Globe reported the companies plan to submit their proposal for the Maine Green Line project to federal regulators and regional regulators in 2015 and complete the project by 2020.

The companies said they would meet with stakeholders in coming weeks.

Pittsfield-based Cianbro would take on part of the construction of the Maine transmission project, which could be part of a regional effort to procure more natural gas pipeline capacity and hydropower in order to replace retiring power plants and fight rising electricity prices.

Anbaric’s partnership with National Grid comes after the region’s largest utility, Northeast Utilities, in September partnered with pipeline developer Spectra for a $3 billion project that would increase the region’s access to natural gas.

Utilities regulators in Maine are considering whether electricity ratepayers should support one of many proposals to expand gas pipelines and that discussion is expected to restart at the regional level, where a new fee on all electricity customerson the regional grid could be used to support a mix of new transmission projects.

Maine Grandmothers Unite to Halt Plans for New Highway

Link to Original Article.

05/23/2014   Reported By: Susan Sharon
Frustrated by what they say is the failure of legislative and political efforts to stop the proposed east-west highway, a small group of grandmothers is taking matters into its own hands. The grandmothers have started holding monthly vigils in front of Cianbro headquarters. Cianbro is the Pittsfield-based construction firm that wants to build a 220-mile-long closed access toll highway that would stretch from Calais to Coburn Gore. As Susan Sharon reports, the grandmothers hope that their quiet persistence will carry a powerful message.
Related Media
Maine Grandmothers Unite to Halt Plans for New Hig Listen
Duration:
3:33
GM Vigil

A group of grandmothers in the Pittsfield area gather to hold vigil against plans for a new highway across Maine.

Last month there were seven of them. This time there are 13 grandmothers standing in opposition to the east-west highway. They range in age from 54 to 90.

Carol Ippoliti“My name’s Carol Ippoliti and I’m from Charleston. And I’m one of the organizers of this group of women.”

Wearing lime green t-shirts with an anti-east-west highway logo, the women unfold lawn chairs on the corner in front of Cianbro’s headquarters, and quietly unfurl banners and set out signs that make their position clear.

“And we’re concerned about the woods, the wildlife, about our homes, our farms,” Ippoliti (left) says. “We’ve seen some maps and we’ve heard that one of the proposed routes would, like, split our town of Charleston right in two.”

“I don’t like the idea of the noise, traffic, air pollution, and I just like our community as it is,” says Charlene Peavey, who turned 75 last week.

Peavey has 15 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She’s written letters to the editor before. But she says this is the first time she’s ever protested or publicly stood up for something in her life.

This issue, she says, is different. “This one just hits me in the heart.”

Many of the women didn’t know each other before they joined the grandmothers’ group. They come mostly from towns adjacent to Pittsfield. They have different political and spiritual views. But they’ve found common ground around their opposition to the east-west highway.

Darryl Brown is the manager of the project, which he says has been stalled for much of the past year. “That’s for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that I’ve been heavily involved with the University of Maine with its offshore wind project,” Brown says, “and I’ve really spent much of my time on that up until just recently.”

But Brown says Cianbro remains committed to the east-west highway project and to the idea that it would make the state a player in the global marketplace.

GM Vigil Bonnie BouchardBonnie Bouchard (right), a grandmother from Charleston, says she appreciates what Cianbro does for the local economy. But she disagrees about the perceived benefits of what she calls a “super highway” through the woods and farms of central Maine.

“I know we’re going up against a lot of money here. And I know they bring jobs. I know they do a lot of good with hospitals and with a lot of local things,” Bouchard says. “We’re not saying that. We’re just saying there’s enough pavement in Maine. Let’s keep the soil and the trees and the woods.”

Joan Morrison has six granddaughters and comes from a dairy farm in the area that’s been in her family for 40 years. She doesn’t think an international corridor will fit in with the other small farms, small businesses and small towns that make this part of Maine special, and she hopes their movement will grow.

“We would like to think that this will keep growing as more grandmothers in central Maine realize there is action they can take,” Morrison says.

Susan Sharon: “Any grandfathers allowed?”

Joan Morrison: “Not allowed. No. No. We’ve gotten past caring what people think. I don’t know that the grandfathers are there yet.”

The grandmothers hold their monthly vigils in front of Cianbro headquarters on the fourth Friday of every month. Darryl Brown says the company respects their right to demonstrate peacefully, as well as their opinions.

Photos: Susan Sharon

East-West Highway Update 1-7-12

1)  In a letter to Susan Collins, thanking her for passing a bill that increases the truck weight limits on the interstate, Searsport selectmen also asked her to consider supporting an East-West Highway through Maine.

If you live in Searsport, or know people who do, please talk to the selectmen about this decision.

Here is the article: http://waldo.villagesoup.com/news/story/selectmen-press-senator-for-east-west-highway-development/477526

2)  Also, the Maine East-West Highway Map has been updated!  Check it out: https://defendingwater.net/maine/maine-east-west-highway-map/

3)  We found a copy of Peter Vigue’s powerpoint presentation from November 10.  Here it is: http://www.emdc.org/document_upload/CIANBRO%20Presentation.pdf

Action Alert: East-West Highway Feasibility Study Moving Forward!

LR 2358, An Act To Provide Funding to the Department of Transportation for a Feasibility Study for an East-West Highway, has been given the green light for consideration this session.

Background

The idea of a Maine East-West highway has been kicked around the Maine Legislature since 1981.  However, public and/or private funding has never been provided to study the feasibility of such a highway or to finance its construction.

Canadian businesses want an East-West highway to move goods more cheaply from inland Canada to its eastern provinces and to a proposed Super-Port at Halifax, Nova Scotia, for export.  Maine would be used as a throughway.  But the highway could also accelerate the exploitation of Maine’s natural resources. Of particular concern to Defending Water in Maine, is the likelihood that the highway would make it economical for giant corporations to profit from cutting down Maine’s forests to supply wood chips to Europe as “green energy” and from exporting Maine’s water in bulk and in bottles to global markets.

Defending Water in Maine and others ask: How will increased truck traffic crossing the state benefit the people of Maine?  Simply, it will not.  But, it will benefit  transnational corporations like Nestlé which can profit from using the highway to exploit and export Maine’s water to sell it around the world.

Why now?

Peter Vigue, CEO of Cianbro, Maine’s largest construction firm, has reignited conversations among business leaders about the East-West highway.  The last time Vigue was vocal about the project was in 2007, when he proposed the private toll road from Coburn Gore to Calais. Vigue again is promoting the highway to be built on private land with other business leaders and with state legislators. Cianbro is poised to profit considerably, as the owner of this toll road.

Plans to construct the road are well developed. Cianbro has already identified a route, and contacted major landowners; however, Cianbro has yet to make public the route they are pursuing.  See our website for a map of the most likely route https://defendingwater.net/maine/maine-east-west-highway-map/

Key business leaders appear unified, and are organizing influence. 

  • Eastern Maine Development Corporation has formed Mobilize Eastern Maine, a new business leader group to promote economic development.  They appear to be networking with community college educators.  For instance, Washington County Community College (WCCC) is starting a new international commerce business program, stating that they anticipate the East-West highway and increased business at the ports.
  • The Summit to Connect Education and Business in Eastern Maine is hosting an event to reach out to educators on December 8. (Here is information on this event: http://www.emdc.org/?id=44&sub_id=188, and the new program at WCCC: WCCC creates new International Commerce Business program)

LR 2358 was just unanimously moved forward for consideration as an emergency bill by the Legislative Council for the upcoming second legislative session.  

In 2007, Vigue said that, except for river crossings and connecting to the interstate, Cianbro didn’t need to go to the government for permitting, since this would all be privately funded on private land.

However, Senator Doug Thomas just sponsored a bill for a feasibility study. The bill summary states it, “would provide funding for an independent, investment-grade feasibility study to determine the need for and location of an east-west highway in Maine.”  Bill sponsor, Senator Doug Thomas, said that, “a surprising amount of work has been done,” that this project is “doable”, and that this would be a boost to the Maine economy. (video of Thomas’s testimony: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzan7GYQSBI)

Action Items:

Join our east-west highway watch group.  We will maintain a separate list of people who want more information on the development of this threat so we can continue to update you and network without burdening everyone on our listserv.

Identify Landowners.  If you or someone you know has been approached about the highway running through their land, let us know!  In the near future, we will be organizing to canvass the area as well and will need your help.

Contact your Local Representative and Senators, and the Members of the Transportation Committee re LR 2358.  Some talking points:

  • There is no reason for this to be considered as an emergency bill. Even Rep. Thomas admits that this has been under discussion for 20 years.  The “emergency” seems to be that Cianbro wants to move ahead.
  • Emergency legislation will not take into account potential environmental impacts of this highway, particularly impacts to Maine’s water and forests.
  • A feasibility study of the East-West highway as a private toll road should not be funded by potential investors.  It is unethical to have an investor-funded study of a project that benefits investors.  Any study must be unbiased, because we are confident that an East-West highway will not benefit Maine people, or the environment.
  • This bill is being rushed through to serve the interests of Cianbro, a private corporation, and Canadian businesses looking to cut transportation costs, without looking at the public interest of all Mainers.  Will the cutting down of our forests, the selling of our water, and being a transport throughway be in the best interest of Maine residents now and in the future?
  • Here is a link to a sample letter: https://defendingwater.net/maine/2011/12/sample-letter-…mittee-members/

List of Transportation Committee Members:

Senators:

Douglas Thomas- R (sponsor)  277-3017  firewood@tds.net

Ronald Collins- R  985-2485  SenRonald.Collins@legislature.maine.gov

Bill Diamond- D 892-8941 SenBill.Diamond@legislature.maine.gov

Representatives:

Wayne Parry- R  286-9145  RepWayne.Parry@legislature.maine.gov

Alexander Willette- R  689-8332  alexander.willette@gmail.com

James Gillway- R  548-6372  RepJames.Gillway@legislature.maine.gov

Kimberley Rosen- R  469-3779  Kurlykim40@aol.com

Peter Rioux- R  659-2293  RepPeter.Rioux@legislature.maine.gov

Richard Cebra- R  693-6782  RepRich.Cebra@legislature.maine.gov

Ann Peoples- D  287-1430  RepAnn.Peoples@legislature.maine.gov

Charles Theriault- D  728-4526  RepCharlesK.Theriault@legislature.maine.gov

Edward Mazurek- D  542-0017  RepEd.Mazurek@legislature.maine.gov

George Hogan- D  423-4293  RepGeorge.Hogan@legislature.maine.gov

Please let us know whom you have contacted.

Thanks!

Chris Buchanan  chris@defendingwater.net