Transportation Committee Wisely Votes 8-1 Against Bill To Scrap I-395 Route 9 Connector
February 17, 2015
Augusta – Members of the Joint Standing Committee on Transportation dealt a crippling blow to LD 47, a bill that would have permanently scrapped a potential route to connect I-395 in Brewer to Route 9 and the Eddington-Clifton area. The “Ought Not to Pass” vote was nearly unanimous, 8-1, with the bill’s Democrat sponsor representing the lone vote in favor of permanently killing the proposed connector.
Approximately $2.8 million has already been spent on feasibility studies on the project, $2.2 million of that is federal funds. Had the bill passed and the plan for the connector been eliminated, the state could have been on the hook to reimburse the Federal Highway Administration for any federal funds spent on the study, roughly $2.2 million. This is according to representatives from the Maine Department of Transportation who testified at the public hearing and work session.
During the public hearing, representatives from the Maine DOT also told the committee that this particular connector, known as 2B-2, is the only option deemed feasible for this area. All other options were ruled out for a variety of reasons such as the potential environmental impacts or safety hazards.
The hope is that eventually the 2B-2 connector will limit heavy truck traffic in the area but the project is not included in the recently released 3-year work plan by the Maine DOT so the plan is indefinitely on hold for now.
Rep. Peter Lyford, (R) from Eddington, vehemently opposed the bill and testified before the committee both during the public hearing and the work session.
“This proposed connector could one day increase commerce in the surrounding communities and simply eliminating it from consideration permanently is shortsighted,” Rep. Lyford said. “Not to mention, eliminating the connector as an option legislatively could cost the state millions of dollars and sets a terrible precedent for future projects.”
The bill now heads to the full House for a vote.