GOVERNOR’S PRESS OFFICE
CONTACT: David Farmer, 287-2531,(cell) 557-5968 Joy Leach, 287-2531,(cell) 837-4885
Jan. 28, 2010 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Governor Celebrates $35 million Grant to Expand Passenger Rail in Maine
Recovery Act Dollars Are Put to Work Creating Jobs and Economic Development
AUGUSTA – Governor Baldacci today applauded the announcement by President Obama that Maine had received a $35 million grant to extend passenger rail service from Portland north to Freeport and Brunswick.
“This critical investment would not have been possible without the Recovery Act and the tireless advocacy of Sen. Olympia Snowe, Sen. Susan Collins, Rep. Chellie Pingree and Rep. Mike Michaud,” Governor Baldacci said. “This project will create jobs now, better connect our communities, boost economic development and growth, and reduce traffic and pollution on our highways.”
The grant is part of an $8 billion program to enhance rail service around the country. According to the White House, the Northeast will receive nearly $1.2 billion in grants that will help to lay new track and upgrade existing lines.
In Maine, more than 28 miles of track will be replaced, 30,000 ties laid and 36 crossings improved.
“The Downeaster is one of Amtrak’s most successful lines and is a national model for the successful introduction of new intercity passenger rail service,” Governor Baldacci said. “By extending service to Freeport and Brunswick, more travelers will be connected to a national rail network, which will spur business growth and increase tourism.”
“The investment is especially important as we work to redevelop Brunswick Naval Air Station, and will benefit the entire Midcoast region and State,” Governor Baldacci said.
In addition, the improvements are a necessary step to extending rail service toward Lewiston-Auburn and will improve freight rail service in the State.
The Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority will manage the expansion project.
The Governor has spoken to President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood about the importance of improved rail service in Northern New England.
“We would not be celebrating today without the efforts of countless people, including the President and Vice President, our representatives in Washington, the Maine Legislature, TrainRiders/Northeast, and the business and community leaders who have had the vision to believe in passenger rail,” Governor Baldacci said.