News Release for June 23, 2009
For More Information:
Nathan Moulton, MaineDOT Rail Program Director - 207-624-3563
Mark Latti, MaineDOT Public Information Officer - 207-624-3030
In these days of fluctuating energy costs and climate change concerns, economical and environmentally friendly transportation modes are a growing factor in transportation planning. As a result, freight and passenger rail have become a stronger focus for the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) in recent years. In order to determine where and how to best make rail investments over the next ten-year period, MaineDOT has just launched a nine-month analysis into the state rail system’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities. The resulting Maine State Rail Plan will provide direction for the future of the state’s passenger and freight rail system over the next ten years.
MaineDOT is working with key individuals who use the existing freight and passenger rail system in order to gather information on current infrastructure and identify trends and opportunities. Public meetings will be held this fall in Bangor and Portland to present findings and hear feedback, and a study web site will be an integral tool to gather public comments. A link to the web site can be found at www.mainedot.gov. The web site will also provide study data as it is gathered, giving the public ongoing insight into the study process and findings.
“In a state as big as Maine, our challenge in any statewide study is to make it possible for the largest number of people to provide insight and information,” said Nathan Moulton, MaineDOT study manager. “We have found that almost everyone is comfortable with simple internet functions these days, and it has become a very effective way to pull in commentary from a broad range of people. We know that many people in the state are very interested in the future of the rail system in Maine, so we are hoping for significant feedback as the study gets underway.”
In addition to hearing from stakeholders, Moulton also sees development of a State Rail Plan as a way to make information available to the public on the cost/benefit analysis that is part of any transportation study. “We all know that today’s economy means making difficult decisions and trade-offs,” he said. “Funding and operating an efficient rail system is very complex, and this study will be a great way to make this aspect of transportation planning part of the public dialogue.”
Information gathered in order to develop the Rail Plan will include:
- Analysis of existing rail infrastructure and operations, including connectivity to rail systems in the United States and Canada.
- Inventory of rail facilities throughout the state.
- Inventory and analysis of freight and passenger marine, aviation, rail, and transit terminals, multimodal facilities, and gateways; taking into account the interaction between these transportation modes.
- Examination of the major ongoing and proposed rail initiatives in Maine.
- Identification of economic, environmental, land use and other trends that potentially could impact rail services.
- Review of state and local rail transportation policies and regulatory considerations.
- Identification of current and future investment strategies for state and local governments, and private industry.
Once this information is gathered, the Study Team will provide for public comment:
- An up-to-date evaluation of the existing infrastructure and its utilization.
- Evaluation of the effectiveness of existing MaineDOT rail programs.
- Assessment of the rail system’s ability to meet current and future needs.
- Identification of possible rail transportation trends and scenarios
- Identification and evaluation of recommendations to guide future rail investments.
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