ROADS: Maine lawmakers want to delay feasibility study for new 220-mile corridor

As residents worry about project’s footprint, bill that would bar eminent takings of private property expected to be introduced

News Bangor Daily News August 14, 2012
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Legislators in the state of Maine are against the proposed 220-mile east-west corridor if it is going to gobble up private property.


Currently, Maine’s constitution does not bar eminent takings of private property, but Sen. Doug Thomas and others hope to change that, and on Aug. 13 he asked Maine Gov. Paul LePage to delay the Maine DOT feasibility study on the proposed east-west corridor (see East-west has two sides, ROADS & BRIDGES, August 2012) until the next legislative session. Thomas supports the project, but only if it does not involve the takeover of private property.


Rep. Herbert Clark, who is running against Thomas in November, voted for the feasibility study during the last legislative session, but now says he wished he had done more research before giving it his stamp of approval. He said most citizens in his district are against both the east-west corridor and the feasibility study.


“We’re all looking for a silver bullet for economic development, but it doesn’t look good for the east-west highway,” he told the Bangor Daily News.


Peter Vigue, chairman of Cianbro Corp. who is pushing for the highway project, insists the corridor can be done without private property takeover.


“I still believe that the study will reveal the economic benefits of an east-west highway, but I want it done in an atmosphere of trust and thoughtful deliberation,” Thomas told the Bangor Daily News.


LePage is against absorbing private property as a means of getting a project completed, and is expected to meet with state lawmakers to discuss the timing of the Maine DOT feasibility study.


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